A colorful mural that helps transform a downtown Brownwood building into the future home of the Intermission Book Shop beckons passersby to step inside.
The building, in the 200 block of Center Avenue, isn’t ready for visitors just yet. That won’t happen until the end of the summer, when owners Brent and Kim Bruton anticipate the Intermission will be ready to open.
It is across the street from Pat Coursey Park, sandwiched between the Taylor Clinic on one side and the Krischke CPA building on the other.
A trio of local artists — Amanda Coers, Jeremy Serna and Myranda Moody — spent about a week painting the mural on the top half of the building, which depicts books and other items including a world globe and a coffee cup lounging on bookshelves.
Brian Northcutt, owner of the Paragon North construction company, and his crew have been remodeling the spacious, wooden interior, which includes a wide staircase that leads to a second floor.
The Brutons bought the building — which formerly housed businesses including the old Queen Theater —through their company, Brim Investments LLC, in November without knowing what they were going to do with it.
Kim Bruton had something of an epiphany when she realized in February the building was going to be a book store — and not just to sell books, but to be a place where people sit, visit and become friends.
The name Intermission Book Shop has a couple of meanings. It’s a nod to the former Queen Theater. “And also, intermission means to pause, to break, to cease striving,” Kim Bruton explained. “So, Intermission Book Shop, where real stories are shared, is kind of our tag. So these books are really just a segue into building relationships.”
A community book store
Bruton said the community will dictate what books the shop sells. “If we have local (authors) we’ll definitely want to showcase their work,” she said. “Also children’s books, definitely Christian books, some mystery … I think as time goes on it will be based on demand. Initially I thought it would be just a new books store, but I think more and more, we’ll have a lot of used books.
“And it will be a true community book store. Our community will dictate what’s here.”
The Brutons also anticipate selling coffee and probably hot teas. “We want this to be a bookstore that has coffee, not a coffee shop that has books,” Kim Bruton said.
“It’s about community. It’s about relationship and the success of this bookstore will not be measured in dollars. It will not fail. It can’t fail because it’s about relationship.
A perfect location
Kim Bruton owns the Runaway Train restaurant, and she and Brent — a Brownwood firefighter —own other investment properties in the area.
“We’ve just always kind of been looking at this (building) since it was on the market,” Kim Bruton said. “It really did not appeal to us … but as time went on and we spent more time in this area, we always just kept looking at it.
“It wasn’t until, I guess November, I found out that they were going to put a Christmas tree in Pat Coursey Park. And I did love this location.”
Bruton explained how a Christmas tree in the park tied into her interest in the building.
“I just get very emotional about things,” Bruton said. “I’m very visual, and just knowing that there would be a Christmas tree there, knowing that this location would tie what’s happening on Baker (Street) to the older establishments on Center (Avenue), I just thought this would be the perfect location to kind of tie those two together.”
‘What is it?’
The Brutons bought the building, and the Paragon North crew began a remodeling project early in the year.
“We had no idea what it would be,” Bruton recalled. “Thankfully everybody just worked with us — the bank, the economic development, and Brian and his crew were already on board to do this remodel, and we honestly had no idea what it would be. And he kept saying ‘what is it? what is it?’
“We were kind of like, ‘we don’t know. Is it a daiquiri shop? is it an ice cream shop? is it a coffee shop?’”
Bruton knows exactly when she knew the building was destined to become a bookstore. That happened on Feb. 2, a Sunday.
“I had finished a book study with my small group at church,” Bruton recalled. “It was ‘The Good and Beautiful God.’”
Bruton explained more of that back story.
The next day, Feb. 3, would have been the birthday of her late friend, Nanda Wilbourn, who died in July.
“I was kind of on a mission after church to go and find a chair, and just sit in a different portion of my yard and read, and just relax, and that was kind of in her honor,” Bruton said.
She said her friend “had expressed to me that she felt I was always striving, always pushing, always doing those sorts of things.”
That Sunday — seven months after Wilbourn’s death — Wilbourn’s husband, Joey, gave Bruton a chair. It had been Nanda’s chair out on the Wilbourns’ back porch.
Bruton sat in the chair in her own yard, reviewing a chapter of “The Good and Beautiful God.”
That’s when Bruton suddenly knew the building on Center Avenue was going to be a book store.
“I think it definitely was an epiphany,” Bruton said. “… I think (Nanda Wilbourn) would definitely approve. She encouraged me to stop pushing, to pause and create an intermission in my days.
“I believe God revealed this to me as he often does by getting in my face.”
Bruton called her husband, who was at work at the fire department, that day. “I know what it is!” she told him.
“I said ‘are you sure?’” Brent recalled. “I was shocked, but she was crazy-excited.” He knew they’d figure out how to make it work.
Kim Bruton said she’s been a longtime book lover, although she hasn’t read as much as she’d like.
“At the Train, at Christmas, we always give away books,” Bruton said. “I collect books throughout the year and have in mind, who is this book going to be for? Who is this going to speak to? It gives me great joy to see how these books are going to speak to people, and I just get to kind of be the go-between.”
Bruton said the bookstore will honor her late friend, “but not just her. Books are so timeless, and they’re just full of advice, and they are like friends — timeless friends that you can reach to and draw from.
“I’ve just gotten confirmation over and over and over that this is what it’s supposed to be, and everybody’s excitement about it just confirms that. The success of this will not be measured in dollars. This is personal, and it’s about relationships, it’s about community and in that sense it’s already a success.”