Downtown business owner balances family and work

Golden Bough Bookstore is an independently owned bookstore downtown on Cotton Avenue. You might have passed by before without even noticing the store. But what lives inside might surprise you.

The store is full of books, but three cats also live at the store. Trinity, Siren and Titan are their names. Eric Wakefield is the owner of the Golden Bough Bookstore.

The Golden Bough Bookstore itself has been around for thirty years. It wasn’t until a few years after Eric Wakefield graduated from Mercer University as an art major that he knew owning a bookstore is what he wanted to do with his life. He was the manager for ten years before he bought the store from the previous owner.   

Eric Wakefield has been with his wife, Heatherly Wakefield, for thirteen years and they’ve been married eight. They met a few times when they were in college but didn’t really get to know each other until afterward, when they both had art studios.

She currently works as the manager of a thrift store, Wear, down the street from the Golden Bough Bookstore. While it might be stressful at times, she said it was also fun. It’s a dream come true for her to run a business.

Heatherly Wakefield said the bookstore is Wakefield’s “baby,” but she does go to meetings and represents the store when she needs to.

The couple has a daughter, Wren, who is almost two-years-old. Wakefield said the happiest day of his life was when she was born.

“I see myself watching her (Wren) grow up. Possibly growing my business to better provide for her,” Eric Wakefield said.  

Eric Wakefield’s typical work day consists of playing with his daughter and reading to her. Wren spends most of her time with her father in the bookstore. She likes making recommendations to the customers. Sometimes people even buy what she brings them.

He describes his daughter as a wild child. She is just starting to communicate. Wren loves to run, climb and play.

Heatherly Wakefield said she loves how much time they get to spend together. A lot of time, kids spend most of their time with their mom, but Wren is spending most of her time with her dad.

“She’s going to know that he’s 100 percent behind her.” Heatherly Wakefield said.

Eric Wakefield and his wife said the craziest thing to happen was when the film crew from The 5th Wave blew the store windows out. The production crew was trying to blow up a bus outside and it didn’t go as planned. The windows shattered, most of the ceiling fell down and the building caught on fire.

However, when they thought one of the cats, Siren, had gotten out the community responded with support and concern. People from Macon all started looking for her. Luckily, all three cats were unharmed.

Heatherly Wakefield said her husband loves his community and is really loyal to his friends. She describes him as an intelligent man with a satirical, sometimes dark, sense of humor. What makes him such a good bookstore owner goes beyond his extensive knowledge of the products and history. He’s an honest man and makes sure his customers get the best recommendations.

“If you ask him if a certain book is good, he’ll be like ‘no it’s really crap,’” Heatherly Wakefield said. “Don’t you want to not waste your time reading a bad book?.”

Wakefield’s vision is to have more inventory and turning the back room into a playroom for kids. It will be a place where children can have their own books and play while their parents go shopping.

According to Wakefield, a person needs patience and the ability to adapt quickly to be a successful independent business owner.