Pete Lacker

Books

The Wild Detectives Pranks Everyone, Starts Online Shop

Don't worry–the Bishops Arts District bookstore is not going anywhere.

The Wild Detectives is one of Dallas’ favorite bookshops, and it’s easy to see why. The charming historic house-turned-business in the Bishop Arts District not only offers reading materials, but also coffee, beer, and–most importantly–a tight-knit literary community complete with poetry readings, writing workshops, and more. 

So, when the five-year-old shop made an announcement on its Facebook page on Sunday that The Wild Detectives was “no longer” a bookstore and was pivoting to become a travel agency, comments from devastated customers came rolling in. The post elicited hundreds of cry-face reactions. However, that emotional turmoil could’ve all been avoided by a quick trip to the “travel agency’s” new website

The Wild Detectives is, in fact, “booking” trips now, but its announcement was more than a little bit deceiving. The bookstore just relaunched gobookatrip.com, a website that allows you to travel the world in literary vehicles, which it first launched last fall. That site is linked to the Wild Detectives’ new e-shop on bookshop.org, the only way to purchase books through WD while the physical store is closed. 

“We thought it would make sense to do a little prank, a little joke,” chuckles Javier Garcia, co-owner of Wild Detectives and Sketches of Spain. “Basically what we’re trying to say yesterday, which was a pretty bizarre joke, was, no we don’t want to be a bookstore, we want to be a travel agency–which is probably, I guess, even worse than having a bookstore nowadays.” 

Reactions were emotional and hilarious. There were dozens of near heart attacks. Some people clearly did not click the website link before beginning to mourn. Even those who got the joke were left feeling shaken. 

“This was almost the straw that made me break down. Phew!!!!”

“Amazing joke. But jeez that gave me the sweats.” 

“Damn. That hurt. I think you now owe us all a free drink when you reopen for the Shock. We will, of course, each buy three books…..”

“Thank you for the long nights of conversation, music, plays, first dates, delicious food, friendly staff, & a place that always felt both familiar and new. Edited: y’all got meeeeee”

Garcia says about 90 percent of people realized it was a prank–but he plans to make another announcement, just in case. “I’m probably going to make a post clarifying and saying have no fear, we’re not going anywhere.”

All mischief aside, the pandemic has been a hard time for The Wild Detectives, and the store needs all the help it can get to remain a Dallas fixture. 

“This has been devastating,” says Garcia. “Aside from the fun of this prank, this has been horrible for us. We launched two things: this prank, and also a new membership program, which is very helpful to us.”

Although the store can sell books online now, the e-commerce platform, Bookshop, only gives 25 percent of those sales to Wild Detectives. The most effective way to support the shop is by becoming a member of Wild Detectives and its sister restaurant Sketches of Spain. Memberships cost $50 for six months or $85 for a year and include 10 percent off all purchases for six months after both establishments re-open.

And if you get a membership now, you can use it immediately for a discount on pick-up orders from Sketches of Spain. That’s good news for all the literary nomads–you’ll need some tapas to complete your trip to Barcelona this month.

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