Vigilant Books is an independent bookstore that is located that is temporarily located at 1900 Market St. in downtown Wheeling, W.Va. just a few doors down from the popular Hall of Fame Café. The bookstore is owned and operated by current Wheeling resident Charles (Chuck) Wood and it first opened in October of 2019. However, the store closed for fifteen months in March of 2020 and didn’t reopen until June of 2021 because of the Coronavirus pandemic which prevented them from keeping the store open.
Vigilant Books is currently located on Market St. because Wood and his wife currently own the block of buildings that are all located right next to one another and eventually they hope to open up the bookstore at its future location in North Wheeling at the old Vigilant Firehouse that is located at 650 Main St. Currently, he and his wife are still in the process of renovating the old Vigilant Firehouse in the hope that someday they will be able to transform it into a bookstore and café which is why their current location is just temporary.
The shop reopening last year led to the creation of what Chuck and fellow entrepreneurs have nicknamed “The Wheeling Book District.” Within four blocks there are three different bookstores. Located just a few doors down from Vigilant Books is another newer bookstore called Point of the Heart and located a few blocks away from that is The Paradox Bookstore which is the oldest bookstore in the entire state of W.Va.
Wood said, “The reason that I decided to name the bookstore Vigilant Books is that I wanted to name it after the old Vigilant Firehouse where we hope the store will be able to be located one day. I opened up the bookstore here because I got tired of waiting and wanted to open the store sooner rather than later because I wanted to have the experience of owning and operating my own bookstore.”
Most books in the store normally range in price between 5 and 10 dollars. There are also some rare books that will sell for between 200 and 300 dollars. Vigilant Books sells both used and new books about the Ohio Valley or written by local authors. The store sells a variety of different books of various different genres including novels, science, history, mysteries, biographies, local history, children’s books, travel books, books about the arts, and even books on philosophy. The store also has a small collection of books about writing which they lend out in hopes to the hope of encouraging budding authors to check out so they always make sure to have new books on their shelves.
Most of the used books that are sold at the bookstore are from people within the city of Wheeling. A lot of people have donated the books that they no longer wanted so they could make space in their homes for new books. On the store’s website, it states, “At Vigilant you can browse actual books, picking them up to enjoy their smell and the feel of their covers and pages. And unlike Amazon, you can look at every page while sitting comfortably in our store. Like all bookstores, our prices depend on the rarity of a book and its condition. Our books are typically good, very good, and like new.”
Chuck Wood is also a writer who has written five science books, a monthly column that was published in an astronomy magazine for 20 years, his own daily blog about the moon for 11 years, and more than 200 scientific articles over the years. He has also written a 36-page historical short story about the house that he lives in and the person that built it and he has also written two historical mysteries and both of them take place in Wheeling, W.Va. during the 1800s.
Vigilant Books is open on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The next time that you find yourself in Centre Market you might want to check out the bookstore. If you want to learn more about Vigilant Books, you can visit their website.
• Hanna Perry graduated in May 2022 from West Liberty University with a degree in journalism and
photography. She is also a resident of Wheeling, West Virginia.