Maple Tree Book Shop and Coffee House, Gate City’s newest business, will open its doors Saturday, July 1, 3 p.m., in time for the town’s second annual Red, White, and Blue Bash Fourth of July Celebration.
Located in the former Family Bakery storefront, 101 E. Jackson St., the store is owned by Dr. Steve and Connie Adkins and daughter, Caitie Cox. Dr. Steve, as his patients affectionately referred to him, was a long-time Scott County physician and a Gate City native. Connie also grew up in Gate City, as did daughters Caitie and Samantha. A key driver for this new venture was to “give back” something to the community and help with the revitalization of downtown Gate City.
As avid readers, Steve and Caitie determined a book store was a natural fit for their true passions. Over the years, they have both assembled a massive book collection – Steve much more than Caitie. Last year, they tested the waters with a “pop-up” book store at local events. Caitie explained “books are really heavy to do a pop-up,” so when the Family Bakery location became available, the family thought it would be an ideal location.
Initially, the store was going to be books only, but the idea of a coffee shop and book store just seemed a natural fit. “Everybody knows the Family Bakery is a great place to go and get coffee so it just made sense to us to add coffee and some pastry items,” Caitie said.
Baking is not something new to either Caitie nor Connie. For a few years, Connie had a cake shop in downtown Gate City. It was Caitie though who peaked Connie’s interest in baking. Caitie’s husband, Kevin Cox, received his Ph.D. in physics at Colorado University in Boulder.
While the pair were living near Boulder, Caitie worked at a cake shop where she learned to do custom cakes. Next, she worked at Craftsy, a company that produces educational videos on all kinds of different topics like quilting, painting, and cakes. Professional cake decorators would come from all over the world and film classes there. Caitie worked on the prep crew for the professional bakers and learned so much about baking just from watching and helping the professionals. For a while, she also made custom cakes.
When the family started talking about buying the bakery, Caitie was not at all enthused about the idea of returning to baking. “When we initially started this discussion, I was like ‘I don’t want to do cakes. I don’t want to do baking. I don’t have time for that anymore.’” Caitie and Kevin now have two daughters, Eliza, 7, and Maisie, 5.
After much family discussion, Caitie agreed to bake once again, but not to the extreme she once did. There will be no custom cakes nor full lunch menus at the new store. Instead, there will be a nice selection of homemade cookies and muffins. Most days, there will always be a chocolate chip cookie and a glazed sugar cookie and seasonal treats.
The main emphasis is books. With more than 4,000 titles, Maple Tree is guaranteed to have a good read for everyone. The store has a huge selection of children’s books, with one entire room solely dedicated to children’s reads. Daughter Eliza has offered to volunteer to read to children. At this point, there is not a dedicated children’s reading time, but Caitie has that as an established goal for next year.
Aside from the children’s large selection, customers can find general book store offerings, with about one-half fiction and the other non-fiction. Fiction has several sub-categories, including historical, sci-fi, fantast, mystery and thriller.
Patrons can expect to find a large variety of nice, used books at reasonable prices. The family spent a year acquiring good, quality books. Most of the books were purchased through library or charity book sales. “There is a large book sale in Winston-Salem that supports the Shepherd Center, (an organization similar to the MEOC in Southwest Virginia). We like to purchase books from them and support their mission. It’s good for us to support them and get quality books at the same time,” she said.
Books for adults will range in price from $7 to $10 for titles that would generally retail new for $20 to $30. In the children’s section, many books are $5 and under.
Along with books, Maple Tree has a selection of book-related items, like magnetic bookmarks, stickers, coloring books, greeting cards, journals and notebooks. The store will offer tea, lemonade, hot and iced coffee, with the coffee sourced from Red Rooster, a family-owned company in Floyd, Virginia.
Red Rooster has been Dr. Steve’s go-to coffee for years. To further the coffee experience, an espresso machine has been installed. The store will additionally be selling custom coffee presses and other coffee-related items.
The running of the store will be a family affair, with Dr. Steve, Connie and Caitie all working and providing their own areas of expertise. They have hired a couple of part-time employees, both of which bring a different skillset to the mix – one is barista and other is part of the English society at ETSU.
During the Red, White, and Blue Bash, the store will be open from 3 to 8 p.m. Regular hours will then be Wednesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. “We wanted to be open a little later in the day because there is still a lot of traffic, with people working and Moms of dance girls. The store will give them a nice place to come in and get a little treat while they wait.”
A year from now, that is Caitie’s wish – for customers to find the Maple Tree Book Store and Coffee Shop a welcoming place.
“I hope that people will know about us … where we are and that they will feel comfortable coming in and getting a cup of coffee and lingering here. We want this to be someone’s regular spot to come to meet up with friends or just hang out and relax.”