It was quite by accident that I happened upon Charles Town, West Virginia’s Fuzzy Dog Books & Music when I was writing Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia back in 2019. I was traveling through the region checking out other shops when I discovered what was then a brand new store specializing in used books and vintage vinyl.
Shop owners Sara Anderson and Robert Wiles created the perfect marriage of books and records when opening the store in their original location in March of 2019. The couple combined their own passions to arrive at the store’s theme.
“We’ve been acquiring records for our personal collection for several years,” Sara says. “We loved making a day out of the experience of going into stores and began thinking it would be fun to sell them ourselves.”
Sara and Robert began by buying album lots online or from local sellers and soon opened an online record store. As they began building their collection, though, they noticed many record sellers also had books they were looking to move.
“Adding books happened naturally,” Robert says. “We would go into somebody’s basement to buy records, and they’d have boxes of books they were selling, too.”
And while both Sara and Robert share a love of vinyl, Sara was especially intrigued with the notion of adding books to their offerings.
“I’ve always loved books,” says the former English major and library worker. “I grew up in Charlottesville, where you can walk along the downtown mall and find three or four bookstores all focusing on something different.”
So Sarah began to curate an impressive collection of books, while Robert focused on growing their stock of vinyl.
“He has more of a mind for remembering artists and music,” she says, “whereas I am more interested in collecting and reading books, so it was a good fit and a good combo.”
When the couple began exploring in-person selling beyond their online store, they ventured into craft fairs and festivals before moving into a brick-and-mortar shop among Charles Town’s active small business community. It’s a close-knit group bolstered by a robust economic development program that hosts multiple events in which the town’s vendors can participate.
“It’s a small town, so we push for those big events to get people in the doors, and it’s working,” Robert says.
Customers find an impressive selection of both books and music inside Fuzzy Dog, named after the couple’s dog, Bentley, who can usually be found curled up behind the counter. While the bulk of the book inventory is used, there is a small sampling of new titles and some consignment titles with regional authors.
Business in their original location proved so successful that Robert and Sara recently relocated into a larger space. Fuzzy Dog now occupies two stories, with progress being made on a third floor. In mid-October 2021 they reached a new milestone: 10,000 books sold since opening!
Fuzzy Dog Books & Music is located at 201 East Washington Street, Charles Town, West Virginia. Open Tuesday through Sunday.
Portions of this post appear in the book Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia, which features Bentley on the cover!