By LYDIA BERGLAR
While Ginger McBride’s family grapples with her tragic death and a web of logistical details, they continue to run McBride’s Bookstore hoping to carry on McBride’s legacy.
McBride worked as an oncology nurse for just under 19 years up until her death on June 16, but the bookstore was her pride and joy. Her goal was to retire from nursing once all of her children were grown to be able to run the store full-time. The June 19 car accident took her life and sent her 17-year-old daughter, Makay McBride, to the hospital.
While the family refers to the store as McBride’s dream and they describe her as the boss, it has been a family venture since the beginning. McBride’s brother, Coy Williams, is the general manager. Makay is the assistant manager. McBride’s mother, Sheron Williams, helps as a secretary, and her husband, Charlie McBride, and other family members also help out.
Makay recalled the day that the previous owners told her and her mom that they were shutting down the bookstore. “We thought, ‘Oh no!’ It’d been here for years. We talked to my dad, to Uncle Coy, to the whole family.”
Coy explained, “Makay, Ginger, and I all started the store together. The first year we were open, Makay worked with me every day while being homeschooled and while Ginger was at her nursing job. She’d do her homework in the back and be up front when I had to go places. Ginger handled all the finances. She learned about a business license and taxes, and we learned as we went along.”
Sheron explained, “Ginger, Coy, and Makay would talk about all the decisions. Ginger would ask, ‘What do you think about this?’ Makay and Coy would say their opinions. She was the boss, and she’s still the boss from heaven.”
Makay described her mother’s excitement when they bought the store. “She just lit up. Turning the store into our own was so fun. My mom went above and beyond, and spent her own money to buy extra books for the store.”
Coy added, “Anytime she went anywhere, she’d come back with books, and I’m the same way.”
The store had already been low on funds for several months prior to McBride’s unexpected death, and McBride handled all of the bills and finances. Coy said, “We’re taking it one day at a time.”
Maintaining business as usual, the store was a sponsor of The 1945 Fair’s hot dog eating contest and hosted a book signing on June 30. This was the fifth local author book signing hosted by the store.
Customers have expressed their desire to have a bookstore in Trenton. Coy said, “A ton of people have come in, especially since Ginger passed because she knew everybody. Everybody I’ve talked to has said they really want to have a bookstore in Trenton. We have some really great customers.”
The store plans to expand sections that customers routinely ask about. Coy explained, “One of the biggest things Ginger and I talked about was bringing in comic books, graphic novels, Manga, and video games while maintaining our other sections. That’s what a lot of people want, and they don’t want to drive to Chattanooga, so I want to try to fill that gap.”
He continued, “Being here a year and a half, you get to know what your customers read. We know that the little old ladies come and get their ten for a dollar romances, and we have the old men who get their large print westerns.”
McBride also paid attention to the needs of her customers. One thing she didn’t like about the store is that some shelves are too close together for wheelchairs to pass through. Coy plans to address the problem.
Makay sustained injuries to her sternum and several vertebrae in the car accident, and while her recovery is the family’s primary focus, she has been at the store in recent days. After graduating from high school in May 2024, Makay plans to study forensics at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, but she also plans to continue working at the bookstore.
She said, “I’m going to try my best to make it the way my momma would like it. I love the store. I can go to school and tell people that I kind of own a bookstore. The customers are so nice, and I love the kids that come in. They’re our future. Technology is taking over the world, so seeing little kids wanting to read books is awesome.”
Makay also believes that reading is a helpful way for adults to wind down. She explained, “When you’re grown, you have jobs and bills to pay, and you get caught up in all of that. If you read, you can put your mind at ease, even just for ten minutes a day. My mom used to read all the time, and she would hardly ever worry.”
Coy reported that the store sees campers and travelers from places like New York and Colorado, thanks to a sign they posted near Cloudland Canyon. He reported that many home school families use the store, they feature different sales each month, and they handle special orders and Ebay sales.
The Dade County Jail exclusively uses McBride’s Bookstore. Families and friends of inmates can order books through the store, and Sheron makes deliveries to the jail. (This process prevents the smuggling of items or drugs into the jail via books.) Coy said, “One inmate has read every one of our James Patterson books.”
In an age when online orders have caused many local and national bookstores to close, the McBride/Williams team must find great deals. Coy said, “If I don’t have a book, I can get it cheaper than customers can get it from Amazon because we have at least ten places where we look for books online, plus I have friends who own bookstores in bigger cities, and we’ll trade. Our prices are cheaper than McKay’s Bookstore.”
Sheron concluded, “Every one of us has put our heart and soul into this store. We all work together as a family, and everybody gets along. It was Ginger’s store, and we wanted her to be happy.”