Givens’ Books’ former owner remembers decades of serving the community after the store building burned down

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 6:01 PM EST
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Officials are working to find out what started the fire on Tuesday night at a former bookstore in Salem. The building was vacant and set to be renovated by a property owner.

Stories that once lined the shelves of Givens’ Books now sit among the rubble. The store’s former owner sold the building to a property developer two months ago, but came back on Wednesday to see the aftermath.

“It was nostalgic, it was sad,” George ‘Chip’ Givens said. “There were a few tears shed.”

Givens ran the store with his family for more than 25 years.

“I learned what the reading taste was for the Roanoke Valley. It was a fun family business for my wife and my kids and myself,” Givens said. “My favorite memory is of us working together as a team.”

Crews are working to determine the cost damage, but for some community members, the bookstore holds priceless memories.

“My wife and I used to make this date night,” former customer Ryan Dunagan said. “We would go out to the mall, get something to eat, come out and peruse Chip Given’s bookstore, come out with an arm full of books, and it was a big part of our early dating history.”

The Salem Fire & EMS Department fought the flames for hours before putting it out. Crews started demolishing the building around 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

The current property developer told WDBJ7 the building was set to be renovated in the next few days. The fire is under investigation.