CHARLESTON — A former clerk now calls the shots at a downtown Charleston institution.
Longtime employee Dan Carlisle has assumed ownership of Taylor Books, completing a multiyear exchange process with the venerable shop’s founder, Ann Saville. Ownership responsibilities were transferred on New Year’s Day, with paperwork finalized earlier this month.
“It’s a tough time and also a huge, huge responsibility,” Carlisle, 35, said. “This is an important place to this whole town. I’m very happy, although it’s also a daunting task. But Charleston has always been so supportive of this place, and it wouldn’t work without the community.”
Indeed, Taylor Books has been an anchor among Capitol Street businesses since Saville opened it in 1995. In addition to being an independent bookstore, it has served as a coffee shop, cafe and art gallery — as well as a gathering place throughout the day, especially in the pre-pandemic world.
“Taylor Books is a place that resembles Charlestonian diversity — a place to browse, study, relax and be inspired,” Charleston resident Jennifer Walters said. “It rejects no creed, race or background, offering coffee, music and art so you could make it your weekly stop and never feel redundant.”
Carlisle’s relationship with Taylor Books’ culture began in 2009, when he started working as a clerk shortly after moving from Minnesota.
He started managing the shop a couple of years later, accumulating more responsibilities as time passed. Saville gradually stepped back as Carlisle’s role expanded, and eventually proposed the idea of transferring ownership in 2017.
“When she approached me, I was immediately like, ‘Yes, yes’,” Carlisle said. “This has been a very natural fit for me. I love this work. I feel confident I can do it, and she felt the same way. And we both have the same kind of vision for the future. It just took a long time to make it happen, and I’m relieved we got it finalized.”
The variety of offerings at the shop should remain, as Carlisle said he “has a lot of ideas, but no major changes in the immediate future.” That includes continuing to host events and classes ranging from live music and pottery classes to meet-and-greets with authors, when permitted.
“Taylor Books has been a Charleston institution for over 20 years and brings a vibrant energy to Capitol Street,” Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said. “With the business staying in the hands of a long-time employee, such as Dan, I know that we will still get to experience a funky, hip destination we’ve all come to love.”