Some people go to esteemed law schools and become renowned attorneys. Others open charming book shops on main streets in suburban towns. Owensboro native Tiffany Lauderdale Phillips does both.
A 1995 graduate of Daviess County High School, Phillips continued her studies at the College of Charleston and Mercer University, where she obtained a law degree. After many successful years in corporate law, she elected for a change of pace and opened Wild Geese Bookshop in Franklin, Ind.
The inspiration came from a tenure she spent in England studying abroad. While she was there, she met her husband George, who is a fellow Kentuckian, before moving back to Lexington.
“In the UK, bookshops felt like a home away from home,” she said. “There is usually someone welcoming and warm.”
Spending an early part of her career in Lexington while her husband completed his Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky, Phillips established herself as a top litigation attorney. In 2015 the couple relocated to Franklin, where she continued her efforts in law.
After working from her basement for a little over a year, she decided it was time to find an office space that would provide a more work-conducive environment. Her journey led her downtown, where revitalization efforts were already in full force.
“I was wanting to find an office so I could get out of my house and meet some people,” she said. “It’s a charming downtown that is experiencing a lot of economic growth.”
It was love at first sight.
“My first thought was, this looks like a book shop and I had to have it,” she said. “I named the shop Wild Geese Bookshop after a Mary Oliver poem by the same name.
“She writes, ‘whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination.’ There are many reasons why that poem was a good fit for the shop, but books are the perfect offering for imagination,” Phillips said.
Phillips opened the shop in 2016 and situated an office in the back where she could continue her works in corporate law. Exponential and unexpected growth forced her to move her office upstairs, converting the old space to a children’s nook.
“We’ve been very lucky — we’ve essentially become a tourist destination,” she said. “I never imagined it would take off to this extent. We’ve become a part of the community and we love it. It’s like Cheers — everybody knows your name.”
While shops in England provided inspiration for the idea and the ambiance, Phillips also has two young children that played a pivotal role in the inception of the shop.
“Our community didn’t have one so I decided I could at least try it on a small scale,” she said. “There is a direct correlation in how many books are in a home and academic success. Literacy within a community is important to me.”
The 500-square-foot bookstore was featured in Forbes, the Indy Star and the New York Times. They’ve played host to several renowned authors — most notably, Mike Rowe from the Discovery Channel’s ‘Dirty Jobs.’
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Phillips to evolve her services to adapt to the ever-changing economic landscape.
“We send personalized care packages all over the county,” she said. “Our hope in this season is to help people feel that connection even when things can feel isolating.”
The bookshop is presently operating by appointment only, sanitizing between each visitor. To learn more about the Wild Geese Bookshop, visit their website at wildgeesebookshop.com/ or find them on many social media outlets.