Editor’s note: Kirkpatrick said the store remained open when the article was published and the store was only closed for 36 hours. ALXnow apologizes for the error.
Ally Kirkpatrick, owner of the beloved local book shop Old Town Books (130 S. Royal Street), is contending with sudden vision loss.
Kirkpatrick opened up about her struggles with vision loss and a near-death experience during a recent pregnancy. She said she may have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other issues surrounding delivering a baby six months ago.
Kirkpatrick said everyone who works at the shop will continue to keep their job and the store reopened.
“I’m working with a new store manager and two consultants who are helping me figure out how to adapt to being a blind small business owner,” Kirkpatrick said. “The transition is super hard! I’m crying at work a lot. Many of our booksellers are spooked. I get it it’s weird! I don’t think there’s an ideal way to go blind, but the way I have gone blind has involved a lot of interpersonal conflict.”
As a local bookshop owner, Kirkpatrick has kept a finger on the pulse of what the town is reading and the bookshop has developed a devoted local following.
The full message from Kirkpatrick is posted below:
Hello bookstore friends! I am experiencing sudden vision loss. I suddenly have a very small field of vision. It’s been over a matter of weeks as a result of what might be a TBI. Not sure. I had severe preeclampsia and had a near death experience delivering my last baby. I’m going to close the bookstore indefinitely effective immediately so I can focus on my health and my three little girls, Fiona (6), Mabel (2.5), and Audrey (6 months.) But I’ll be back better and blinder than ever in a little while. And everyone who works here and has decided to keep working here has their job and will be paid during this mini sabbatical. I’m working with a new store manager and two consultants who are helping me figure out how to adapt to being a blind small business owner. The transition is super hard! I’m crying at work a lot. Many of our booksellers are spooked. I get it it’s weird! I don’t think there’s an ideal way to go blind, but the way I have gone blind has involved a lot of interpersonal conflict. I am so grateful for the smart and beautiful women who helped me grow this store! I am *especially* grateful to Rachel and Jackie, Su and Nicole. You are seeing me, holding me, helping me find my vision for the future of Old Town Books.
Photo via Old Town Books/Facebook
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If you had a chance to enhance a child’s future with a time commitment of less than 2 hours a week, how would you respond? You have that opportunity right now to join over 200 Alexandrians as a reading tutor volunteer with the Alexandria Tutoring Consortium (ATC).
ATC tutors work with one child in kindergarten, first, or second grade in Alexandria public schools who need extra help with reading. Tutors meet with their Book Buddy 1-2 times each week for 30 minutes October-May at school, during school hours. Many struggling readers only receive one-on-one instruction through this program, and it makes all the difference. Last year, ATC served 195 children, of whom 82% ended the year reading on grade level and 96% made substantial reading gains. But the need is great, and we are still seeing learning lags from the pandemic.
This year, ATC plans to significantly increase the size of the program to reach over 250 students and to serve every elementary school in Alexandria. This is very exciting news, but we will only succeed if we can recruit more tutors. ATC trains you, matches you with a child, and provides ongoing lesson materials and support.
If you have been thinking about buying your first home or haven’t owned one in the last three years, THIS IS FOR YOU!
In the DMV area, it can be difficult to save the downpayment necessary for you to get into your own home. We have a solution. The Funder’s Summit!
We have assembled a summit with different municipalities to tell you how to access their funds for your home purchase.
Mark your calendars and join us for the Family Fun Fall Fest on Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 11am – 2pm!
This FREE in-person event will be held at the Shoppes at Foxchase, located at 4641 Duke St, Alexandria, VA