by Chelsea Reid

The term “Chop Suey” refers to what is now culturally and famously known as a dish of food. While the phrase is an Americanization of the Mandarin “Za Sui,” literally meaning “a little bit of this, a little bit of that,” Chop Suey the bookstore, takes a slightly less literal approach. Though only slightly.

Chop Suey Books was started in 2002 and has been providing excellent service to Richmond, Virginia and beyond ever since. Their original location at 1317 West Cary Street was the former home of George’s Chop Suey, a neighborhood restaurant/watering hole that lasted through the early 1970s.

Their rusted sign was still attached to the side of the wall, so we adopted the name…

Using their original stomping ground as the bas of operations, Chop Suey Books’ used their namesake to create a vision of combining a solid collection of gently used literature featuring all types of genres and titles. Everything from art, photography, architecture and design to philosophy, poetry, theater, film, and so on.

Over the years, Chop Suey Books has kept this vision while growing into a Richmond mainstay, participating in and helping to organize various community events. Like most independent bookstores, Chop Suey recognizes the important impact that a business can make on a community and vice versa.

In 2006, Chop Suey opened their second location, artfully dubbed “Chop SueyTuey,” in Carytown, Virgina. Because they felt the need to give this second location it’s own personality, Chop Suey Tuey began stocking select new publications that might not be found elsewhere in Richmond or across the state of Virginia. And like most new opportunities, it became a blessing in disguise.

When Chop Suey’s original location’s rent was raised by over 20%, forcing them to regretfully close. However, not letting that hinder them for too long, Chop Suey moved their entire inventory to Carytown. To fit in all of the newly added books, they expanded to the upstairs, and now have two floors of fantastic, nearly new used books and about 800 hand picked new titles!

Chop Suey Books is always buying gently used books, offering either cash or store credit for the following: literature, art, photography, architecture, design, poetry, history, Virginia history, military history, graphic novels, music, fashion, film, theater, philosophy, psychology, and the like.

Since Chop Suey Books is mostly a used bookstore, they often times find it difficult for to keep popular titles in stock. However, they are now able to order new copies of books and are therefore are able to special order almost all of their in-print titles. To make up for the inconvenience, they offer a 10% discount on any book that needs to be ordered because it is not in stock when needed. This discount is just another reason why it pays to shop at a locally and independently owned bookstore!

So there you have it. A bookstore by their own self proclaimed definition is a “little bit of this, and a little bit of that.” But I can guarantee, take a step inside, you’ll want to stick around. Because while it has a little bit of everything, you can be sure that the two things they’ll never run short of are the mass amounts of different books, and a whole lot of heart.

Images courtesy of Chop Suey and Linnell Esler

Chelsea A. Reid is currently a senior at Delaware State University majoring in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations/Marketing & Advertising and a minor in Studio Art. She is currently a Marketing intern for Author’s Boutique and is working towards become a successful Public Relations and Marketing Practitioner.