Interview with Chuck Beard, owner of East Side Story bookstore

By Dave Carew

East Side Story, located in the heart of East Nashville, is Music City’s first all-local bookstore, selling ONLY books by local authors.  According to its Facebook page, this vision enables the bookstore to be “a blank canvas for all local literary ideas, to help make Music City more of a book town.”

Underground Nashville recently had an email conversation with Chuck Beard, owner of East Side Story, about his unique bookstore. Here’s how it went (edited for space):

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:  What compelled you to open a bookstore at the very time when so many others, unfortunately, are closing?

CHUCK BEARD:  I was compelled to open East Side Story because I had the idea and the opportunity, thanks to several other doors opening [nearby] at the same time. Luckily for me, East Side Story is what I define as a bookstore at the moment, from day to day. It is an ever-changing business, probably at a higher rate than most others because of the obvious issues with technology and economic changes, but all of that affords me to make it whatever I want it to be and become . . . kinda like an ongoing artwork with words. So far, [the bookstore has been] an open canvas for all local literary ideas, connecting dots and thoughts with other artists, authors, and all creative types.

UN: East Side Story just opened in August. What has the experience been like for you so far?

CB:  Eye-opening and a blessing, all at the same time. I feel like I have opened the door and tons of creativity has flown inside of the store and website, and tons of people are loving the concept and chance to share novel ideas with everyone who has a passion for stories in general. I am the sole proprietor and employee at East Side Story, but I truly feel like everyone who comes in—and who is a part of it on our walls and shelves and projects—have ownership in it, too.

UN:  If you can achieve your dream for
East Side Story, what will that dream look like?

CB:  I hope it continues to be an idea that helps inspire others to do whatever they are inspired to make, create, write, tell, or share creatively with others. One of my favorite things so far is that I write stories about customers to each artist/author who sells something from our store. [This] really does make the creatives happier, knowing where their work is going to their new homes for enjoyment. I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to get a reply from the artists/authors after receiving my sale email, and how good it makes them feel.

I’m new at running a business, but I think that if I’m doing something every single day to help make others happier about the hard work they are already doing to have a positive influence on others, then it makes me happier day by day, too. And it reminds me that I’m on the right path.

For more information, visit

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Dave also is a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit and “like” the page on Facebook:

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Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew



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