Virginia is for Geeks – Chop Suey

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Richmond, Virginia, getting the scoop from the locals on the best geeky shops in the area. Last week, I shared my experience at Velocity Comics, and today is all about Chop Suey Books in Carytown!

A good handful of my posts are going to feature places in Carytown, a neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia. It was definitely a great area to spend the weekend in!

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Walking into a bookshop is one of my favorite things because of the smell of books, the sight of books, and the anticipation of leaving with books! Chop Suey added to that initial charm in many ways, but the first was being greeted by Ashley and Claire, the friendly shop clerks working that day. Oh, and WonTon. We can’t forget about the shop cat, WonTon.

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Ashley and WonTon

After I had browsed around downstairs for a bit (and already cached some books at the checkout), I asked Ashley and Claire about where I could find Tolkien books. Ashley’s ears perked up and she told me she was a big fan of fantasy, and Claire said that she’d just added some new Tolkien books to their shelves.

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I guess a lot of people don’t even realize that there’s more upstairs, but that’s where most of the inventory was!

Right next to the Tolkien books was this little room that I thought was a cute spin on a reading nook. Ordinarily, I would be happy enough to leave it at that, but I could see a faint glow of a television screen where the curtain met the wall. Curiosity compelled me; I pulled back the curtain to find a secret room!

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I found out later that this was an art installation titled, “Madame Zoe’s.”

From the Chop Suey Website:

Chop Suey Books presents Madame Zoe’s, a new installation by Thea Duskin & Noah Scalin.

Madame Zoe’s is a historical recreation of the home & parlor of Madame Zoe (neé Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins) who was a psychic advisor and palmist working on Hull Street Road in Richmond’s Southside from the 1940s until her death in 1976.

In addition, Circe Moss Mallory, a disciple of Zoe’s has agreed to a residency in the space and will be providing readings free of charge at various times throughout the length of the installation. Jake “Pepper” Malloy will also be present to provide more detail regarding the installation.

Working with researchers Alane Cameron Miles & Phil D. Ford, Duskin & Scalin poured over historical documents and photographs to create a highly accurate recreation of Zoe’s work & living space, featuring several authentic artifacts provided by her living descendants.

Madame Zoe’s will be on display from April 15 through October 31, whenever Chop Suey Books is open. An opening reception will be held Friday, April 15 from 6-8pm and is FREE and open to the public.

My photos cannot do it justice. If you’re going to be in the area from now until Halloween (actually, especially on Halloween), I recommend stopping by!

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I was laden with more books by the time I made it back downstairs, and I asked if they would ship the books for me. It was a bit unorthodox, but Claire called the owner, got permission and the details on how to handle it, and very kindly shipped my books to my house. They actually beat me home!

Chop Suey was one of my favorite places in Richmond — due in no small part to Ashley and Claire — and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it because it wasn’t specifically a comic book or game shop. Again, it was getting tips from the locals that steered me in the right direction!

You can keep up with Chop Suey and WonTon using the links below, and don’t forget to stop in if you’re in Carytown!

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Stay tuned for the next post in my Virginia is for Geeks series, because there is plenty more to do in Carytown!

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