Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch.
For as long as I can remember, the Mount Vernon community has been kvetching (complaining, an act invented by New Yorkers) to those powers about the lack of a nice bookstore. When I was a staff person for Supervisor Gerry Hyland, that had to be one of the most frequently asked questions, just second to “Hey, Gerry, when the hell are we gonna get better cell phone service?”
I can assure you that for years Hyland had been trying to persuade the Barnes and Nobles of the world to locate to the Route 1 corridor, but the response always was that the demographics would not support a full-time book store.
Now, Beth and Tom Conway, who reside in Mason Hill, have responded to the community and have opened up not a new book store with a flashy name but a nice, well stocked used book store called
Now, I’m not getting paid by the Conways to write this, so delete that nasty “reply” that you were about to send out. I am writing about Re-Reads because the community has been shouting about a book store years and someone has stepped up to the plate. The Conways have spent thousands of dollars on a new lease, zoning permits and all the other miscellaneous obstacles you have to leap over to operate a small business in this county. And now they are nestled in a little nook on Cooper Road, right next door to the Burke and Herbert Bank — and they deserve our support.
It’s a small place with five rooms filled with used books divided into the usual categories (“Fiction,” Children’s Books, “Books Not by Danielle Steele”). Hardcover and paperback, generally half price. They also give store credit when you donate books.
Now the big question is will they make it?
Truth be told, it’s been a struggle. Indeed, this article may be the best advertising they’ve gotten so far. In about a month, a new website designed just for small businesses in Mount Vernon will be launched, which should help them a little, but it’s a chicken-and-egg situation because if your customer base is low, you don’t have money to spend on advertising. Not to mention they are bucking the trend as more people buy books on the web and get them delivered to their doorstep.
But I’ve compared prices and the books at ReReads are about the same price because you actually put the books into your hands and carry them home, so there’s no shipping costs. In addition, there’s something to say about walking into a little shop with the sole proprietor is sitting there behind the computer ready to fill your every need and talk books with you. Then there’s that smell of books. You know what I mean, right?
I also think there’s something to be said about patronizing someone who is taking a chance and is just trying to respond to their community. Sure, we don’t owe them anything, but there is something to say about supporting some local businesspeople who have stuck their necks out for us.
Check out their website at www.rereads-usedbooks.com, then go down to 8742 Cooper Road, say hi to Beth or Tom and smell the books.