Prospero’s Books , located in Historic Manassas, Virginia, has been a vocal advocate of local writers and “Shop Local” campaigns.
Write by the Rails would like to congratulate Erika Walser on her new position, and wish Bob Chase well in his retirement.
As the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, Write by the Rails and its members truly appreciate this community partnership.
Gary Belt, owner of Prospero’s Books in historic downtown Manassas, Va., has announced Erika Walser is the new sales manager of the independent bookstore. Walser takes over for long-time sales manager Bob Chase, who retired May 13.
Walser is a 2009 graduate of Osbourn High School and earned an associate’s degree from Northern Virginia Community College in 2010. She has worked alongside Chase at Prospero’s for nine years.
“Bob hired me at age 15,” said Walser. He taught me everything I know about books and much, much more. He has watched me grow up, go off to college at Virginia Tech, get married and become a mom. He has been much more than a boss, he is a great friend.”
Prospero’s sells, trades and consigns books in the 104-year-old Hibbs & Giddings building at the corner of Center and West Streets. The current inventory of about 85,000 volumes includes general hardback and paperback fiction and non-fiction, with extensive collections of military history, especially the American Civil War.
On-line book listings through AbeBooks make it easy for customers to purchase and send gifts of any book in the inventory anywhere in the world. Prospero’s has access to rare, collectible and out-of-print books, and offers a growing inventory of antique maps and prints.
“Being a specialty book shop in such an old and beautiful building, we have become a destination store for a lot of people,” explained Walser. “We have regulars who come in every week, and out-of-towners who shop whenever they’re visiting.”
Belt, who has owned the building since 2003, recently freshened the interior and exterior of the century-old building with the approval of the city’s architectural review board.
“No one loves this building more than Gary does,” said Walser. “He’s always saying he can’t imagine anything but a bookstore being here.”
Prospero’s is named after the character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a duke who valued his books more than his dukedom. The shop’s beloved and creatively aging cat, Pringles, passed away last year.
“Sometimes I think the Ghost of Pringles Past is following me around the store when no one else is around,” said Walser.
Bob Chase has been a well-known and vocal advocate for “Shop Local” campaigns. Walser plans to continue that advocacy, as well as support for local authors with book signings that complement Historic Manassas Inc. events, such as the upcoming First Friday on June 5 and the Railway Festival on June 6.
“I’m currently filling all our summer weekends with book signings. Any interested parties should give me a buzz!” invited Walser.
Walser will represent Prospero’s at meetings of the Washington Antiquarian Booksellers Association (WABA) and the Old Town Business Association (OTBA).
“We also belong to the exclusive, coveted, and absolutely non-official guild of independent bookstores,” she added. “Sadly, the last one loses members every year. We’re competing with smartphones, tablets and short attention spans.”
Bob Chase attended his last OTBA meeting May 13 at City Tavern in Manassas. He plans to travel and take advantage of a free schedule to pursue other projects and activities. His favorite quote is from Mark Twain: “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
Virginia Living Magazine’s 2015 “Best of” Readers Poll recently named Prospero’s Books the Best Locally Owned Bookstore in Northern Virginia.
Prospero’s Books is located at 9129 Center Street in historic downtown Manassas, Virginia
For more information, Call 703-257-7895
Hours of Operation
Sunday – Tuesday, Noon to 6 pm
Wednesday and Thursday, 10 am to 7 pm
Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 8 pm