Culture // 4 min Read

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Mar 26, 2020

Once upon a time, in a sleepy little town nestled in the bend of a wide, beautiful river, there was a bookstore. Located at the end of the sidewalk and ringed by a vibrant garden with flowers in every color of the rainbow, this shop was just as colorful inside as it was outside. Across every shelf, tucked into every corner, were books upon books arrayed in jubilant rows that told tales of happy bunnies, scary pirates, valiant heroes, and everything in between.

And the children of that sleepy little town loved their little bookstore. Books in hand, they read happily ever after.…

A voracious reader, Sally Sue Lavigne loves wordplay. She’ll pepper her conversations with turns of phrase and subtle puns that reflect the literary soul behind them. It’s appropriate, then, that the name of her store embodies subtly brilliant wordplay. The Storybook Shoppe can be taken two ways, after all. The first, and most direct, being that it’s a shop that sells storybooks.

The second meaning comes from the dreamy sense of storybook charm that surrounds the place. You enter on a pathway cut between beds of beautiful flowers where fairies and gnomes would happily call home, approaching the quaint frontage of a store you could swear holds at least seven dwarfs.

And then you step inside something you thought had gone the way of knights and dragons—a small community bookstore. Long thought replaced by the mammoth big-box chains (which were themselves replaced by the online juggernauts), this bookstore makes you can feel as if you’re stepping into the sort of fantasy worlds that fill the store’s pages. To see so many books, and the precocious young readers who lose themselves in their pages, it seems like something out of a story.

In fact, The Storybook Shoppe is just one volume in the story of the resurging local bookstore. “Amazingly, I look at my newsletter from the American Booksellers Association, and there are new bookstores opening every week,” Lavigne said. “A lot of it is young families—they want their children to have that experience of picking up a book, feeling it, and responding to it. You can’t get that online.”

That tactile experience is central to the shop’s appeal. Tell the staff what you’re looking for, and you’ll be guided from shelf to shelf as your arms fill with books. Or, bring along a young reader and watch as they pick up a book, flip through its pages, and forget all about the tablet screens and video games that make up their general media consumption.

For Lavigne, the point is to get children reading by any means necessary. Even if it means they’re reading, say, The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey. “Captain Underpants, you can put that in the hands of a reluctant reader,” Lavigne said (although she notes Pilkey’s much cleaner Dog Man series is now his most popular among young boys). “At the end of the day, the most important part is convincing parents and grandparents that reading, whether it’s a newspaper, billboard, comic book, or War & Peace, is reading.”

And while The Storybook Shoppe is one of just a handful of independent bookstores within 200 miles, it has carved out its niche with its beautiful location amid the reinvigorated finery of Calhoun Street in Old Town Bluff ton as well as its laser focus on children’s books. Beyond the picture books for the younger readers lining the walls around the shop’s lower half, there is an elevated loft where the young adult readership will find their next great read.

Even 20 years after he was first published, a certain boy wizard still casts a long shadow over the demographic. “Since Harry Potter, there’s been an acknowledgment that there’s a different reading group in that 9–12 age range. Even for 6- to 8-year-olds, there are so many more options now,” Lavigne said.

And she reads them all.

“I’m usually reading 12–17 picture books a week. With novels, I’m a slow reader, so I may only get through one,” she said. “But what I’m reading in December is what’s going to be on our shelves in March.”

If she’s on the fence about a book, she has an excellent set of backup readers for a second opinion. Everyone on her staff is either a former teacher or a librarian, and each is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to children’s literature. When one customer came in during a recent visit looking for a new book for a young reader obsessed with survival stories, Wendy at the front desk had four titles that fit what seems like a very narrow genre.

“The heart and soul of this business are the lovely women that work with me. Not for me, with me. They take as much ownership as I do,” Lavigne said. “They know the books. You can come in, and they’ll get little bits of information and be able to pull 12 books where your kid will love at least one.”

Throughout the year, The Storybook Shoppe hosts a slew of special events. Mondays are for storytime, with occasional visits from local authors, while regular special events run the gamut from the “Where the Wild Things Are” wild rumpus to charity drives. In November, for example, they do the “Llama Llama Red Pajama” party where they collect pajamas and books to be donated to CAPA.

“It’s really important for us to give back to our community. We have fabulous visitors who come from as far away as Australia, but my community is a place I need to be a part of,” Lavigne said. The annual Local Heroes Storytime brings out members of Bluff ton Township Fire District and the Bluff ton Police Department for a day of reading alongside kids in Dubois Park. At this year’s event being held on May 4, recognized as Star Wars day, Lavigne couldn’t help but sneak in one more bit of wordplay. “The police will be there, so the force will be with us.”

The Storybook Shoppe is located at 41 Calhoun Street in Old Town Bluff ton. Visit for more details.


Culture / Day Trips from Palmetto Bluff

Story by Barry Kaufman and Photographs by Lizzy Rollins Just beyond the gates of Palmetto Bluff, at the end of that quiet stretch of trees and sunlight, a solitary strip of pavement beckons. This connective tissue, a tributary, leads off across the great Amer...

Feb 2024
palmetto bluff

Real Estate / Behind the Bluff with Broker-in-Charge W. Bryan Byrne

Bryan’s Journey to Palmetto Bluff Real Estate In this edition of Behind the Bluff, W. Bryan Byrne, the Broker-in-Charge at Palmetto Bluff Real Estate Company, discusses his two-decade journey in the community. His experience has intricately molded the authent...

Jan 2024
real estate in bluffton sc

Real Estate / Lowcountry Housing Trends & Market Updates

Real Estate in Bluffton, SC: Trends, Updates, and Insights Bluffton, South Carolina, nestled within the scenic Lowcountry, is not just a picturesque haven but also a thriving real estate market. As the demand for homes in this charming town continues to grow,...

Jan 2024

Food & Wine / Mocktails from the Palmetto Bluff Club

Rosemary Spice Mocktail Recipe Introducing Buffalos' exquisite Rosemary Spice Mocktail—a meticulously crafted blend that awakens the taste buds with a perfect harmony of bold flavors. Fresh jalapenos are muddled for a subtle spicy kick, while luscious cra...

Jan 2024

Artist in Residence / Painting Wild

Story by Sandy Lang and Photographs by Lawson Builder In early May, The Arts Initiative hosted renowned Lowcountry painter West Fraser as our esteemed Artist In Residence. Throughout his stay, residents were treated to an array of events, including a painting...

Jan 2024
palmetto buff golf course

Sporting Life / Behind the Bluff with the Palmetto Bluff 9-Hole Golf Course Team

All About the New Palmetto Bluff Golf Course Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, a new golfing adventure is taking shape—the Crossroads 9-Hole Golf Course. To delve into the intricacies of this project, we had the opportunity to sit down w...

Dec 2023

Conservation / Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run 2023: A Celebration of Endurance, Nature, and Community

A Recap of the 2034 Buffalo Run The Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sunday, December 11, 2023, drawing in a record-breaking crowd of over 500 runners. The event, nestled in the heart of Palmetto Bluff's 20,000 acres of natural sp...

Dec 2023
places to eat near hilton head

Food & Wine / Ask the Locals: Our Favorite Restaurants Near Hilton Head

The 10 Best Places to Eat Near Hilton Head Island Nestled on the southernmost tip of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island beckons not only with its pristine beaches but also with a culinary scene that rivals its natural beauty. The Lowcountry, known for breatht...

Dec 2023

Artist in Residence / Journey through Creativity: Palmetto Bluff's 2023 Artist in Residence Highlights

As the sun sets over the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, we are grateful for the creativity that took center stage throughout the year. The 2023 Artist in Residence program has ended, leaving behind a trail of artistic marvels and inspiring stories. F...

Dec 2023

Real Estate / The Builders Behind the Bluff

Meet the Palmetto Bluff Builders Team A home is more than just bricks and mortar; it's where cherished memories are made, and dreams come to life. At Palmetto Bluff, the Palmetto Bluff Builders team designs homes based on your vision.  Allow us to introduc...

Dec 2023
Community Villages
Palmetto Bluff Club
On The Water
The Arts Initiative
About Us