#ILMstrong: Old Books on Front Street

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Daughtry’s Old Books on Front St. has been a Wilmington Institution since 1982.

Few people have ever met a born storyteller like Mr. Daughtry, but once they have, they won’t forget him. A Goldsboro native, Mr. Daughtry moved to Wilmington (for the fishing) after bravely serving in World War II. In the mid- 1970’s he retired after a distinguished career from the appliance department of Sears Roebuck. Too energetic to slow down in retirement, Mr. Daughtry opened the bookstore in the Gaylord building in the 200 block of N. Front St. Wilmington, NC in 1982. That same year the Rohler family became patrons of the store.

The store moved to its most recent location at 22 N. Front St. in the early 1980’s. Over the years not only have people found a haven in the bookstore, but many people have lived in the apartment above it. Pillars of our creative community including Jeff Loy (Theatre and Film) (, Anghus Houvrous (The Legendary Independent Filmmaker, and Nikki and Michal Wisniowski(Visual Artists), to name but a few. The bookstore and apartment have been used as locations in more films than we can count and the bookstore has rented books for set dressing and props to films for over 25 years.

The bookstore developed an iconic reputation in Wilmington. Then, in the early part of the 21st century, Mr. Daughtry sold the store to his longtime patrons, Rohler Family.

Gwenyfar Rohler is the current managing partner of the bookstore, and she is extremely honored that Mr. Daughtry and his beautiful wife, Ms. Lucy, chose her and her family to write the next chapter of the bookstore. “I keep telling people – ’I’ve won the lottery,” she says. “That’s what it really feels like – I have won the lottery.”

After a quarter of a century in at the 22 N. Front St location we were forced to move due to “Catastrophic Building Failure”. On January 12th the building was condemned following years of neglect by it’s owner and we were forced to move into storage while we searched for a new location. A miracle happened: our community rallied and over 300 people showed up to move the bookstore: thousands of boxes, filing cabinets, bookshelves moved out the door and into storage. Every age from 2 years old to mid-70’s showed up with wagons and handcarts. It was an unbelievable day.

We have just purchased a new building at 249 N. Front St, across form the original location, The Gaylord Building. Our new building is turning 100 this year and we are embarking on a massive renovation project to insure it has another 100 years!

None of this would be possible without the support of you, our valued patrons and wonderful community. Thank you for making Historic Downtown Wilmington the best place in the world to have a small family operated bookstore!

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