Stories To Tell

LAKEWOOD – Romance. Murder. Mystery. History. Thrilling escapades of all kinds can be found within the walls of Off the Beaten Path bookstore in Lakewood.

The start to this story begins with Holly Richardson and a dream. The owner of Off the Beaten Path saw a need for an independent bookstore. Richardson spent years living out west before moving back to New York in 2007. In 2009, she opened up Off the Beaten Path in Lakewood.

“I love the old-town feel of Chautauqua Avenue. You know, it’s the main street of the village,” she said. “It’s got storefronts. It has an old-fashioned feel, and that is what is really appealing.”

Once a space on Chautauqua Avenue opened up where the store is now, Richardson felt it was ideal for foot traffic. The relaxed and homey atmosphere also led to decision to set up shop there.

Richardson teaches 10th- and 12th-grade English in Ellicottville. She received her undergraduate degree at SUNY Fredonia and her master’s degree at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass.

She feels the best thing about reading is that nobody can be bored or lonely.

“I think that is so important for kids nowadays because I see they can get bored so easily,” Richardson said. “Those kids with books in their hands are never alone. They are always living through the characters in the novel. … It opens the mind to other worlds and the way other people live, believe and think.”

Richardson makes sure to stock what the customers want.

“We really are an example of our customers. We have what they want. So, it’s a reflection of Jamestown, Lakewood and Chautauqua County,” she said. “We also have a large selection of local books – both new and used – and it is just the diversity that makes people come back.”

Due to space being so limited, Off the Beaten Path can’t carry everything. To make up for this issue, Richardson does special orders with no additional cost to the customer other than the price of the book. She also carries rare and out-of-print books.

To celebrate being in business five years, there will be free hot dogs, cake and raffles. Beth Peyton, author of “Clear Skies, Deep Water” – a memoir published by SUNY Press about modern-day life on Chautauqua Lake – will sign books from noon-2 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

“The one thing I love about (Peyton’s memoir) is that it is a local book, and it’s about now, not about the past,” Richardson said. “Many of the local books focus on the glory days of Chautauqua Lake when there were steamboats and there was an amusement park in Celoron, and this one talks about how wonderful the lake is today. I think it’s really important because we don’t hear enough of the positives about what it is now – we just hear about what it used to be.”

Off the Beaten Path’s five-year anniversary celebration will be held all day April 26 at 28 Chautauqua Ave. in Lakewood. Store hours are from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. It can be reached at 720-4917.