Lori Fisher shares the 25-year legacy of her Quarter Moon Books & Gifts.
Lori Fisher is proof that your life story can always have an unexpected new chapter.
The owner of Quarter Moon Books & Gifts in Topsail Beach originally moved here in 1992 from Boca Raton, Florida, by way of her hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. She had retired from the mortgage banking industry after her daughter, Lauren, was born. Pining for the change of seasons, Fisher’s family moved from the sauna that is Florida to the four seasons of the North Carolina coast – minus the harsh winters of Minnesota.
“I had been a stay-at-home mom and, once we got up here, I was just kind of ready to find something to do,” Fisher says. “So I went to work for a property rental company, worked that for one season in 1995 and just decided that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Then I saw a little ad in the paper.”
That for sale ad was for a little bookstore called Quarter Moon, owned by a couple who retired to Topsail Island from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and only had the store open for a season in May 1995.
“After a season, they just decided it really wasn’t what they wanted to do for their retirement,” Fisher says.
But it’s just what Fisher wanted to do.
“My husband and I drove down to look at it, and the minute I walked in, I’m like, ‘Yep, this is what I want to do,’” she says. “I had no retail background; I just love to read books. But I had no clue as to what I would be doing, and the couple was great.”
The original bookstore was in a small, rented space on Anderson Boulevard in Topsail Beach; Fisher bought the couple’s inventory and carried the name, inspired by the Emmylou Harris song “Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town.” When she found out that the former owners were working with book distributor Ingram Content Group, Fisher and her husband flew to its headquarters in Tennessee.
“I contacted Ingram and told them that I don’t really know anything about this and I’m hoping you can help guide me,” she says. “They were great. They gave us a tour of the facility and pretty much taught me what I needed to do.”
Given that Quarter Moon has been around for 25 years, it’s safe to say that Fisher learned the right things to make a successful business. And the evolution has been extraordinary: from beefing up the sale of just books to add coffee and gifts in that small space to buying a bigger building down the street in 1999 and sharing it with a friend who ran Pat’s Porch Antiques for a time. Unfortunately, just a couple of years later, Fisher’s friend’s husband passed away and she decided to move to Atlanta closer to where her children live, so Fisher bought her share out and expanded her inventory. And did she ever! Since then, Fisher has added to her shelves unique coastal gifts, cards, home accessories and women’s apparel. In addition to the store’s abundance of bestselling books in all genres, Quarter Moon also has an Indie Next List section, featuring Southern writers. There’s also a coffee and smoothie bar and, as of 2013, a wine bar.
“It’s evolved into a lot more than what I had pictured,” Fisher says. “We also do live music in the evenings.”
Quarter Moon also offers a book exchange, in which customers can bring in used books in good condition for a dollar credit each toward other used books.
“What I’m most proud of here are the relationships I’ve built with my customers over the years,” she says. “In 25 years I’ve seen a lot of children grow up, and every year I look forward to visiting with people that I’ve known for such a long time and only get to see once a year. I feel like I’ve really bonded with a lot of people and I consider them very dear friends.”
In fact, she tells of one family from Pennsylvania who summered in Topsail Beach, and each year, the young daughter would ask Fisher to pick out a book for her. She’s now a student at Yale.
Fisher’s daughter was one of her first employees at the age of 9. She went on to earn a master’s degree in public health from UNC Chapel Hill and now works as the director of the wellness programs at her alma mater’s School of Medicine.
Fisher has a staff of about eight to 10 at Quarter Moon, depending on the season, including a full-time wine bar manager and her longtime friend Claire Braxton, who has been working at Quarter Moon for the last 20 years.
“She’s a book nerd and she orders a lot of the stationery,” Fisher says fondly. “We sell lots and lots of greeting cards, and people always comment on our choices.”
However, Fisher is ready for the next chapter of her life. The bookstore is currently for sale.
“I want to sell it so that the bookstore continues on,” she says. “I’m not selling it just to be done. I want to make sure it goes to the right person.”
Depending on when the bookstore sells, you may or may not find Fisher when you visit Quarter Moon Books & Gifts. But you will find her spirit living on in this legendary Topsail Beach shop.
Want to visit?
Quarter Moon Books & Gifts
708 South Ocean Boulevard
Topsail Beach, NC