From the origins of its name to the happenings within its four walls, Fred & June’s Books is more than a bookstore.

It’s a relationship.

There’s something about a quaint, indie bookstore that screams “we’ve arrived” for a small downtown district like Mooresville’s. And that’s certainly what happened when Fred & June’s Books opened at 248 N. Main Street in September. Since then, people have traveled far and wide to visit the family-owned bookstore — the only one of its kind in the area.

Not one detail of Fred & June’s Books was an accident; it was dreamed up, planned and executed by Stephen and Morgan Hayes and — certainly not to be left out — their 6-year-old son, Spencer, who is quick to point out that he picked out everything in the bookstore’s unique kids section. The treehouse with the ladder inside is his favorite part.

Well Loved Home — a Charlotte-based husband-and-wife design team who are friends of the Hayes — built the treehouse and customized all of the shop’s bookshelves, turning the couple’s dream into a reality.

Stephen and Morgan said they’re not done growing yet. Soon they’ll be adding cafe-style seating to the space, “and people can get coffee and hot chocolate,” said Spencer, who can usually be found hanging out in the bookstore after school, possibly reading his favorite Minecraft Ideas Book. “I’ve gone through every, single page of it,” he said.

Fred & June’s Books carries new and used books in a wide variety of genres, including children’s books. Thousands of the titles in the bookstore are from the Hayes’ personal collection, and if a book isn’t in stock, the bookstore happily accepts customer requests.

One of the more popular questions that Stephen said the family is asked is: Why is the bookstore named Fred & June’s?

The story behind the name is part of the shop’s charm. Fred is Stephen’s dad and the person who steadfastly believed in Stephen and all his dreams. “He entertained my every whim. (You want to be a drummer? That’s awesome, let’s go pick out a kit! A writer? Come on, I’ll try and help you sell your reviews to the local newspaper!)” Stephen wrote in a recent Facebook post.

June was Fred’s sister and the only person who was allowed to call her brother Fred. Everyone else called him Guy. “They had the closest relationships I’d ever seen,” Stephen said, adding that his dad and aunt were both avid readers. “They had a closeness that almost any siblings would envy.”

From this bond, the name “Fred & June’s Books” was born.

“We are more than just the words that we say, we are the relationships that we build,” Stephen said. “And this is what Fred & June’s Books represents — a place to create the lasting memories and deep connections that make us who we are.”

When Fred passed away, Stephen said, “For a while there I lost the wind in my sails. But over time, that wind returned, and I could hear his words of encouragement in my head, could remember the way his voice would resonate in such a way that you could just tell he believed in every piece of what he was saying. And those memories would push me forward to now, to the realization of this dream.”

More than just selling books, the goal of Fred & June’s is to foster relationships and community, Stephen said. It will be home to book club and board game meetings, art displays, poetry slams, writing classes, book signings and story times for children. The bookstore recently held a midnight book release party for Iron Flame, complete with themed snacks and drinks, trivia and a costume contest.

“Our goal is not just to sell books, but to connect readers with new worlds while bringing them closer together with each other and with their community,” Stephen said.

Stephen hopes to work with local schools, combining his family’s longstanding passion for reading with his education and background as a middle-school English teacher to help build literacy in the Mooresville community.

That sense of community is what makes Fred & June’s Books special. “Our customers aren’t just numbers,” Morgan said. “The other day I asked Stephen if one particular lady had come in; it had been a while since I’d seen her, and I started worrying about her.”

Stephen said that small, independent bookstores can survive in an industry dominated by larger chain stores. “We exist for personalized service and a more curated collection of books,” he said. “We can both exist in the same world.”

Fred & June’s Books is open until 8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. That’s later than most downtown stores stay open, and Stephen said that’s on purpose. Staying open later gives people somewhere family-friendly to go, and it also works in tandem with Downtown Mooresville’s social district, which allows people to carry a drink from a local bar while browsing and shopping downtown.

“We make a conscious decision to stay open late, and it’s worth it for us,” Stephen said. “With a small business, every single dollar counts.”

He said one of his very favorite parts of being at the bookstore is seeing the community embrace it as their own. “Just having people passionate about your existence … people are proud of it,” he said. “They see a business they want to support, and they support it.”

Stephen took to Facebook recently to thank those who have stopped by the bookstore, spread the word about their venture and welcomed his family and vision into the community. “Thank you for making my dream come true,” he wrote. “Because while I can’t effectively describe what it’s like to be living it, I can say that I wouldn’t be here without you.”

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the December edition of “IFN Monthly.”

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