New Bern locals and tourists alike will be happy to know The Next Chapter Books & Art will remain a bookstore for the foreseeable future, even though previous owner Mary Jo Buckl has decided to move on to her “next chapter.”
Local author Michelle Garren Flye, who writes romances under her own name and the locally set children’s series Jessica under the name Shelley Gee, assumed the reins of The Next Chapter at the beginning of the year. Flye says she has always wanted to own a small bookstore, so when Buckl decided she was ready to move on from the business, Flye was thrilled to take over.
“It’s sort of a leap of faith,” said Flye. “I don’t have any background in business, but I have a lot of support and resources. The downtown community has been very welcoming.”
Flye’s background isn’t in business, but it’s definitely in books and words. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in library and information science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She says she’s been a stay-at-home mom/writer for the past twenty years, though she’s stayed busy with volunteer work at her children’s schools. Flye also serves on the board of RiverTowne Repertory Players.
The best thing about taking over The Next Chapter, Flye says, is the shape the previous owner left it in.
“Mary Jo and her husband did so much work here. There are so many improvements. They truly turned it into a very welcoming, beautiful shop. All I had to do was walk in and take over,” Flye said.
The store has temporary hours for now since Flye is currently working on three different local theater productions and says she is trying to acclimate both her family and her dogs to her not being home. Currently, the schedule is 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. Flye says she will be open on some Saturdays with permanent Saturday hours starting in the spring.
For more information, consult the store’s website (http://thechapternc.com), Instagram (@thenextchapternb), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheNextChapterBooksNB), email firstname.lastname@example.org, Visit 320 S. Front Street in New Bern, NC or call 252-633-5774.
By Contributing Author: Michelle Garren Flye