New Owners Bringing Change to Va.'s Chop Suey Books

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After purchasing Chop Suey Books in Richmond, Va., last fall, new owners Berkley and Chris McDaniel are making changes to the 20-year-old bookstore. According to Richmond's StyleWeekly, they've already brought in new inventory and a point-of-sale machine, and while the store will continue to sell mostly used books, they plan to add a selection of new titles.

With their new inventory, the McDaniels plan to prioritize poetry, graphic art books and local authors, along with a smattering of national authors. They want to expand their event offerings with individual local authors and forge partnerships with area writers' groups like Richmond Young Writers and James River Writers. Before Christmas they held an event featuring local authors and craft beer from a local brewery called Hardywood.

Berkeley McDaniel told StyleWeekly that he wants to put more emphasis on the store's seven staff members when it comes to engaging with the community and building the store's inventory. "My focus is on employees; to make it easier for them to talk to customers."

Chop Suey Books was founded by Ward Tefft in 2002. He moved the store to its current location in 2008, and early last year sent an e-mail "out of the blue" to the McDaniels asking if they would be interested in taking over the store.

"I did," said Chris McDaniel. "We love what he created."

Won Ton, Chop Suey's 15-year-old bookstore cat, was included in the purchase. McDaniel noted that it was part of the contract and they had to "go to a veterinarian and sign papers. We want him to have a long and happy life."

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