When Atticus Books & Music opened its doors on September 17, 2022, it proved that Fountain Hills was eager to have a bookstore. People flowed in and out of the cozy little shop all day, browsing the shelves and thumbing through the vinyl records.
One young man settled in an armchair while slowly flipping through the pages of a book, a board member from the River of Time Museum scanned the collection of history books, and three friends planned a Girls Day around visiting the store.
The proud owner, Dan Cafaro, watched a dream come true before his eyes. And he celebrated with everyone at the end of the day by bringing in a live jazz trio to entertain his new customers.
The story leading up to the opening of Atticus Books & Music is fascinating and filled with passion for this business. We’ll let Dan share that story in his own words.
How did you choose Fountain Hills for your new bookstore?
Fountain Hills chose me. I first moved here in 1999 when my wife Marjean’s software company asked her to report to the Scottsdale headquarters. We were the new parents of an adopted toddler (Shawn) and wanted to live in a good town to raise a child. Fountain Hills struck us as that town. We left for the Washington, D.C., suburbs in 2006 (another corporate move) and returned to FH as boomerang residents in 2018 when my former employer (WorldatWork) came knocking. We were excited to find that FH had retained his charm and allure, but were dismayed that it did not have a bookstore or music shop. We decided to dive in with reckless abandon.
What sparked the idea to start a bookstore?
I first caught the indie bookstore bug in 1995 when I opened Chapters Revisited, a used bookstore in Doylestown, Pa. I was an avid reader as a young child before sports and girls consumed my brain. I returned to my love of books in college–and began frequenting bookshops wherever I traveled. As someone who embraces entrepreneurism, there’s only one line of product that truly gets my motor running–and that’s bound printed matter (i.e., books).
What will people find when they visit Atticus Books & Music?
First and foremost, I want people to find a warm, inviting atmosphere (a downtown cultural hub vibe) with a wide array of choices that appeals to all ages and backgrounds. While my store can’t be all things to all people, I’d like to attempt the impossible. If you like to read or listen to music, if you’re open to letting new thoughts into your head, or if you’re looking for a unique gift, or perhaps a good spot to escape from the day-to-day yawn of suburbia, we’re you’re elixir.
Will you also be publishing books?
Yes! I’m elated to report that the publishing house is back! In its heyday (2010-2016), Atticus Books published 22 wildly creative full-length works, including 14 genre-busting novels, four story collections, two novellas, one memoir, and a history of the American literary magazine (Paper Dreams). In 2023, our plan is to publish four books under the Atticus imprint: a novel, two creative memoirs, and our first poetry collection.
Will you be offering any workshops for writers or other activities for readers and/or writers?
Oh my, I hope so! I truly intend on making that happen and will rely on the kindness of strangers and the power of the community to pull it off.
How does a locally-owned bookstore enhance a community like Fountain Hills?
It enhances the community by: (1) existing; (2) listening; and (3) evolving. All communities deserve a bookstore where patrons can gather to celebrate the arts. There is so much good in this troubled world–and a bookstore provides so many ways for us to connect on both a visceral and intellectual level. A bookstore provides us an opportunity to learn, share, demonstrate, hug, and, if you’re really lucky, it’s a place where serendipity appears and you get to stumble upon it with joy.
Vinyl records have made a resurgence in recent years. Will people find something special for their vinyl collection?
I’m so humbled and delighted that I get to add music to the mix! You would think it was a conscious business decision, but really it just felt like destiny. As a lifelong music lover and avid concertgoer, it’s a dream come true. We’re starting out with rock, jazz, blues, soul, alt-country (folk/Americana), indie/contemporary/pop, soundtracks, and Frank Sinatra (yes, he warrants his own section–shoutout to the taste of my heavenly dad and father-in-law!). It’ll take time for Atticus to build a deep and broad collection of vinyl, but fear not, patrons, you’ll find many gems–new, reissued, and lightly used.
What are your top 5 favorite books of all time?
Impossible question, but I’ll bite. In no particular order, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (of course!), Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell, The Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Cathedral by Raymond Carver, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. A baker’s dozen. (Oh wait, you said 5? Sorry, I’m not very good at following directions or math.) As for nonfiction . . .
Dan was also a guest on the podcast Atticus After Dark. Check out that interview HERE.
Atticus Books & Music is located behind Capella Eyecare at Plaza Fountainside.
12625 N. Saguaro Blvd., Suite 111
Closed on Mondays
COVER PHOTO: Copyright 2022 by Tim Yoder, used with permission
Again, congrats to Dan and the clan for making their corner of America a brighter, smarter place.