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[caption id="attachment_170590" align="alignright" width="300"] Cole and Susanne Blumer (right) run Sassafras on Sutton.[/caption] Annaliese Blumer published three books by the age of 12. While this is an impressive feat, it

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[caption id="attachment_170590" align="alignright" width="300"] Cole and Susanne Blumer (right) run Sassafras on Sutton.[/caption] Annaliese Blumer published three books by the age of 12. While this is an impressive feat, it

Cole and Susanne Blumer (right) run Sassafras on Sutton. photograph by Tim Robison

Annaliese Blumer published three books by the age of 12. While this is an impressive feat, it was an inevitable fate for the daughter of Susanne Blumer, an author, lifelong lover of books, and the owner of Sassafras on Sutton, a bookstore in downtown Black Mountain.

Susanne and her husband, Cole, raised their two children on a 110-acre farm in South Carolina. It was on the farm where Annaliese dreamed up an imaginary girl, who had red, curly hair and often dressed in purple from head to toe.

In the three-book Piper Periwinkle series, Susanne and Annaliese created a world for the kind-hearted, mischievous Piper, telling stories of her prized pig, spelling bee achievements, and afternoons spent picnicking. The children’s books were just the start of the family’s literary adventures.

When they weren’t busy on the farm, the Blumers would often visit Montreat in Buncombe County. During one trip, Susanne came across available retail space with low ceilings and stone walls in nearby Black Mountain. The family went back home, sold their farm, and moved to North Carolina to open Sassafras on Sutton in 2018 in what was once the town’s old livery stable.

The lower level of the shop was one of a few structures that withstood a city-wide fire in 1912. photograph by Tim Robison

Now, the space is filled with rows of books, local gifts, book-themed goods, and a coffee bar. They’ve since expanded the shop to occupy the entire building, turning the upstairs into a toy store. Their first customers in the toy store following pandemic interruptions were three children. “They had Ziploc bags full of change that they had been saving all during lockdown,” Susanne says, “just waiting to come in.” Sassafras on Sutton has become a cherished reading nook filled with the scents of new books and ground coffee, but Susanne, a farmer at heart, says that, on occasion, she still gets a whiff of the animals that were kept here nearly 150 years ago.

Sassafras on Sutton
108 Sutton Avenue
Black Mountain, NC 28711
(828) 419-0677
sassafrasonsutton.com


Harry Potter Day — July 29

During the annual Harry Potter Day celebration at Sassafras on Sutton, general manager Kathleen Madden and owner Susanne Blumer watch children’s eyes grow wide as they walk beneath floating candles and discover that their local bookstore has transformed into Buncombe County’s own Hogwarts. It’s an all-day party for those who dress up and attend: There are readings from the series, costume contests, a wand-making workshop led by a local woodworker, and even a visit from the magical school’s headmaster Dumbledore, played by Blumer’s husband, Cole. “I think that a lot of people, kids especially, don’t have an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the magic of their books,” Madden says. “It’s important for us to foster imagination for young children — even into adulthood.”

To learn more about the event, visit sassafrasonsutton.com.

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This story was published on Jun 27, 2023

Katie Kane

Katie Kane is the assistant editor at Our State.