New Dominion isn't the only shop on the Downtown Mall recently under new management. Read It Again, Sam, located on the same
side of the Mall and a few blocks closer to its center, was subjected to similar tragedies and significant
events in 2017.
It might be a shock to learn that Dennis Kocik has only owned and managed the store since last December — he speaks of Read
It Again, Sam and moves through the space as though it has been his focus for many years. Any old-time
customers, however, know that Kocik is filling a suddenly and tragically vacated void.
"Read It Again, Sam was started by Dave Taylor 30 years ago," Kocik said. "Ten years of it was in Lovingston, where they
lived, 20 years right here."
The "right here" refers to another beautiful building — not quite so grandiose as New Dominion, but remarkable in a quieter
way. Marble floors and polished wood paneling abound in the store, remnants of the jewelry shop that
once occupied the space that lend a refined but unpretentious mood.
The store is made even more unassuming by the endless figurines, posters and assorted movie memorabilia, all of it starring
and celebrating Humphrey Bogart.
"[Taylor] liked the movie 'Casablanca' … apparently he was a big Bogart fan," Kocik said with an understated smirk.
The name of the store itself — done in gold lettering on the front windows, along with a sketch of Bogart's face — is a play
on a classic, though oft-misquoted line from "Casablanca."
If Read It Again, Sam, is in some ways a shrine dedicated to Bogart, it has recently updated its decor to celebrate the late
Taylor. Near the front of the store is a black book nearly full of condolences from long-time customers,
and next to that is Taylor's laminated obituary. A quick flip through this book gives an idea of the
impact Taylor had on the community.
Dave was a good fellow. Part of the fabric of downtown. Many years — many books.
Kocik's recent acquisition of the store is still very much on his mind, as evidenced by the amount of time he spent talking
"When I found out Dave had died March of last year, I remember telling Barbara, the manager ... if she was looking to sell,
I'd be interested," Kocik said.
Though Kocik has no previous experience running a bookstore, he's familiar with the sellers of Charlottesville.
"I've never owned a bookstore, but I've been buying books here 20 years myself," he said. "I bought books from all of [the
bookstores on the Mall], including those that are no longer here."
When asked about the competition of other bookstores on the Mall, Kocik claimed that it was nonexistent.
"I don't even look at it as a competition," he said, though he did admit that "it's unusual for this small area to have that
To this phenomenon, he attributed the "bookstore experience" as the main reason.
"Buying from Amazon is one thing because you're buying something that you can't touch and feel," he said. "You just pray
that it'll come in good condition. Here, you can browse, and you actually wind up seeing a book that
you weren't looking for."
Kocik stressed that "you don't get that from a Kindle," becoming visibly more passionate as he continued to discuss the physical
element of books and bookstores.
"There's something personal," he said. "You get up-close with a book."
During the interview, customers filtered in and out of the store, sometimes buying books, sometimes just saying hi to Kocik.
A few of them referred to him by name, a testament to the impact Kocik has already made on the community
in just a few months.
"I always quote the ancient Roman Cicero," Kocik said. "'A room without books is like a body without a soul.' We have soul.
We have a lot of soul."