STEPHENTOWN — Braveheart came out in 1995, the same year that Louise Hendry and her family immigrated to the United States from Scotland. She was just in middle school at the time, and her classmates had no understanding or knowledge of Scotland, except that Mel Gibson’s new movie took place there.
Jumping forward 20 years to 2015, Hendry bought a bookstore in Stephentown, and it needed a name. Her father suggested Braveheart Books, and she instantly felt the store become her own. Hendry and her cat Orson transformed what was previously Down in Denver books to a homey, lipstick red shop, which she affectionately refers to as “kilt meets kitsch.”
As soon as customers are greeted by Hendry, they will understand her mission for the store.
“The bookstore is a party for books; we are celebrating books. We have up-tempo music, we have lollipops, we have Orson the bookstore cat,” said Hendry. “… Joy is supposed to be shared, and this place is joy.”
As Hendry has grown alongside Braveheart Books, she learned that although she always considered herself a “book person,” she is more of a “book people person.” There is no doubt that Hendry loves books, as she has dedicated her work to sharing them with others, but it is even more apparent how much she loves the people she is sharing them with.
“When I was young, I liked books because I was bullied and I was super shy and books took me away from people… And now the irony is that I love books because books bring me to people, and books bring people to me,” said Hendry.
Since her business model is so focused on providing a positive, fun, and exciting experience for her customers, Hendry has made it especially easy to access books, and not just in their affordability.
She has created a strong social media presence for the store, which has allowed for her to sell books to customers all across the country. Hendry also noted that she’s always on the lookout for titles, authors, and genres that people have requested or made note of, referring to herself as a “matchmaker” and “personal book curator.”
She expressed that a successful trip to her store isn’t marked by how many books or the specific titles customers walk out with. It’s more important to her that they leave with an experience that left a smile on their face.
“You don’t need to be a big store, you don’t need to have a big staff, you don’t have to have a big inventory to have a big heart,” said Hendry. “And I think that’s the great thing about small businesses: small business, big heart.”
Braveheart Books is located at 874-NY-43, Stephentown, NY. The shop is open Friday-Monday from noon to 6 p.m. Hendry is open to private visits if customers aren’t available those days or are passing through the area during the week. To schedule, call 518-733-6856.
Additionally, the shop’s outdoor book tent is open any day, as long as there is no rain, but call ahead to confirm.
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