GOSHEN — Community support has been part of Fables Books since before it even opened.
The used book store opened July 16 in the former location of Better World Books in downtown Goshen. The group behind it had started putting together a plan shortly after Better World abruptly announced its closure in March.
The team includes downtown business owners and former BWB employees. To gather an initial stock while keeping their costs low, they asked people to donate boxes of books in exchange for coupons.
The donations accounted for about 85 percent of the 20,000 books now on the shelves, said Kristin Saner. She worked as assistant manager at BWB and is now part of the Fables team along with Jenny Frech and Brad Weirich, who got the ball rolling, as well as Veronica Berkey, Mark Saner and Jeremy Friesen.
“The shelves are pretty bare, but we thought we’d show the community our progress and let them be a part of it,” Kristin Saner said.
The rest of their current stock came from a large acquisition from an estate sale. They’re also developing partnerships with libraries and Friends of the Library groups, accepting books from them and giving them a percentage of the sale proceeds.
“It’s been a very good partnership,” she said. “It means there’s an influx of books at all times.”
‘They want a book store’
Saner said their first few weeks have gone pretty much as expected, though they haven’t been able to process incoming books as quickly as they’d like. They get help from their kids and parents, who clean and de-sticker incoming books and then shelve them on the weekends.
They expect to get an infusion of new inventory next month. They’re also excited to hire their first employee, which is happening sooner than they thought.
They changed the layout of the old store a little. Everything is on the ground floor now and they added reading corners throughout, where people can sit and read or hold discussions.
“Our plan is to rotate the books faster,” she said. “Everything is on one floor, so we can be very on top of knowing what sells and purge things so we have space for new things.”
They have a smaller inventory of used games than BWB had, though she noted they’re always accepting donations. They also carry the Tenzi line of dice and card games.
Other non-book offerings include tote bags, notebooks, letters for banners, and jewelry made using recycled library book borrowing cards. They have more things on the way, like cards and prints from local authors, Kristin Saner said.
Fables has a regular schedule of events too, including story time for kids, which is sometimes bilingual, as well as book club discussions and author talks or book signings. Recent and upcoming ones include writers on juvenile education, cook books and sci fi novels.
They also have special events on occasion, like a number of activities planned for Banned Book Week. Those include a virtual read-out, banned author letter-writing and discussion of Huxley’s “Brave New World.”
Saner said she and the other shop owners believe book stores are vital for a community, as places for people to gather and find new ideas. She said it’s something Goshen residents clearly want, judging by their support and their outcry at the closure of Better World.
“We’ve been grateful for the community support we get. Their love and support allow us to continue,” she said. “Our community showed they want a book store.”