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Between the Library drama this summer, the start of Banned Books Week, and the want to highlight the extraordinary stories (all puns intended) of Leander residents who make this city the best possible place to call home, telling the story of Patchouli Joe’s Books and Indulgences seems only natural today.

Joe and Diane Mayes are living an amazing love story: they met decades (I won’t say how many) ago as American high schoolers in Germany. The circumstances of teenaged life and the return to different spots in the US tore them apart. They fell out of touch and continued to live their lives. As single adults, they reunited through the life-changing magic that is Facebook.

Reunification was not enough, however. With Joe in Florida and Diane in Dallas, the physical gap between them was too vast. So in early 2018, Joe and Diane married and settled down right here in Leander. Joe said that moving around constantly as a child and then joining the military as an adult, he had never put down roots anywhere the way Diane had. He wanted to live in a place where he could create roots. Leander, he found, fit that plan perfectly.

The Mayes’ had a dream: they wanted to open an independent book store. Yes, you can order books on Amazon or you can walk around the corporatey Barnes & Noble at the mall, but what the Mayes’ envisioned was different: a small book store that engaged allt eh senses, with books available to pick up, smell, flip through; coffee to sit and sip; friendly people to talk to; and if you’re lucky, sometimes a friendly cocker spaniel to love. The Mayes’ wanted a place that would feed your mind, body, and spirit.

They looked at several locations in the area and rejected the boxy, corporate feel of some in neighboring cities. Then a small space in Old Town, next to the Beer Market became available. They snatched it up immediately. Patchouli Joe’s was born.

They loved the feel of their space and the location in town, but the area was missing something. Yes, it was Old Town, yes it was an area where the community comes together, but being that there was no town square, but instead a sort of H-Shape, it was lacking something. And with that, this creative duo launched #HeartofLeander.

#HeartofLeander is a place you can put down roots; a place that feeds your mind, body, and spirit. It’s a place where you can listen to music, find a good book, eat the most delicious pastries, grab some dinner, buy a new hat, go to work. The #HeartofLeander is not just a location in Old Town, the #HeartofLeander is the people who make up this city. Most everyone here is from some place else, but we all come here and put down our new roots, we get along, we build community, we create new family.

The Mayes’ truly are the Heart of Leander.

Note: Heart of Leander stickers are for sale at Patchouli Joe’s for $3.99 and magnets are $5.49. One dollar from every sale of each will be donated to LEEF to support teachers right here at home.

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