Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ram's Head Will Either Close or Be Sold at End of Year

Rams Head's distinctive facade in Towers Mall
John and Lolly Rosemond, who have owned Ram's Head book store in the Towers Mall for 47 years, will relinquish ownership at the end of the year and retire. It is not clear whether the store will close or be sold. Manager Christine Hastings has expressed an interest in buying one of the most respected independent book stores in the region.

The Rosemonds opened the store at the then three-year-old Towers Shopping Center in 1964 and have expanded it into four spaces over the years. It has expanded so much, in fact, says Lolly that the stock has become virtually unmanageable. It has never been computerized. "We opened before people had their stock on computers," she says, "and we've talked to people about it. They threw up their hands."

If Christine Hastings buys the store after the first of the year, says Lolly, it will be computerized and the store will likely have a strong on-line presence.

The store's name, Ram's Head, comes from the Rosemonds' love for the University of North Carolina, whose mascot is a ram.

Ram's Head is in the middle of a closeout sale that will run to the end of the year. Lolly says that if the store is sold to Christine Hastings, it likely will be contained within one or two units. "Increasingly, we have sold to order for large customers," she says, "and we don't need this large inventory."

Ram's Head shortly after opening in 1964
She believes that, even as bookstores across the country close on a daily basis and even the big ones are in serious trouble, Ram's Head has a unique niche because of its location, stock, employee knowledge of books and customer loyalty.

"People still want real books" and the book buying experience, she insists. Over the years, Ram's Head has been the one bookstore in the region where local and regional authors could be certain their books would be featured. Bud Robertson's new book on the Civil War will be sold there and Lolly says Tom Angleberger, whose children's books have been on the New York Times lists, was launched there.
She says the location "is an interesting shopping center with eceletic shoppers," pointing to the success of Fresh Market and Dollar Tree, which appeal to different ends of the economic scale.

The potential sale to Ms. Hastings is something the Rosemonds hope happens. "We think Christine can be a success here," says Lolly. "She was with Books Strings and Things in Blacksburg and Roanoke and has 20 years of experience."

Rams Head has been a Roanoke Valley icon for decades. Let's hope that status continues with new management. Good book stores are a real treasure and Ram's Head is a good book store.

(Black and white photo: Neil Good Studios)


  1. Oh this is not good. I go there every chance I get to buy a book, but it is not on my every day path living out in the hinter lands as I do. If I lived in town I'd be in there every weekend, though. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Here's to the continued existence and thriving of Ram's Head. I patronize them when I need a (non-e-) book, and always at Christmas. You want kids to love reading? Take them to the Ram's Head children's section and let them go. Amazon can't touch that experience.