1295 Bardstown Rd. | 2720 Frankfort Ave. | 1313 Bardstown Rd.
Here is our 40th Holiday Catalog—clichés abound, “Life begins at forty” and “forty is the new twenty”, and “where’s the gold watch?”—but Carmichael’s is an organic contraption, held together by our customers and employees, that rides American culture from peaks to valleys, always with a book as our sidearm.
We opened in 1978 at the corner of Bonnycastle and Bardstown Road, reading The World According to Garp and Wendell Berry. We lost our lease there and landed in a beautiful building at the corner of Longest and Bardstown in 1983 (reading Winter’s Tale and . . . Wendell Berry). Heine Brothers Coffee came along in 1995 (Longitude . . . and Wendell Berry) turning our corner into truly one of those third places that exist between work and home. Our Crescent Hill store opened in 1999 (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone . . . and Wendell Berry.). Finally, in 2015, we opened Carmichael’s Kids (H is for Hawk, and, of course, Wendell Berry) next to our Bardstown Road store.
Wendell Berry comes with every milestone, because there is no writer who is a better helmsman to steer us through the rough seas of culture and politics and keep us grounded. Carmichael’s is sometimes an emergency room, trying to offer relief to the heartbreak of 9/11 and the irrationality of the Iraq War. Sometimes we’re like a Party Mart, when the first African-American is elected President or the first woman was nominated. That’s the beauty of books—they can be escape; they can bolster a search for truth; they can be an affirmation or sometimes even a challenge of one’s strongly-held beliefs.
And these are perilous times. There is a cancer of anti-intellectualism and anti-education spreading down from the top of our politics. Fake news will soon become fake books where Macbeth will be viewed as a strong leader instead of a blood-soaked sociopath. In the past forty years, we have always felt Carmichael’s has been a storehouse for people looking for long-form truth (much longer than 140 characters), a balm in an environment of fear and uncertainty. Our customers have supported us all the way, because they also are filled with curiosity and a quest for true and real information that is the vertebrae of knowledge.
So, forty years on, we raise our glasses to the loyalty and brilliance of our customers, the diligence and toil of our employees, and the truly astonishing virtuosity of the writers and books that sustain us.