A bookworm’s delight

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AMINA SAMREEN SALAHUDDIN | ASST. FEATURES EDITOR

 

Just at the corner, passing through an arched walkway and along side an old building leads one into a quaint and cozy downtown bookstore.

The Downtowne Bookstore, located on Main Street near the Mission Inn, was established in 1979 and offers a classic and cozy little place filled with a myriad of rare books.

Fine used books on a wide variety of subjects such as astronomy, woodworking, world history, a collection of William Shakespeare works and a huge section of children’s books for all ages are available.

Two sisters, Nadia and Vera Lee have owned the bookstore since 2002.

According to Nadia, the bookstore is located in a “sweet spot” of downtown and that attracted them toward buying it.

“We knew that we would never be rich through this bookstore, yet this is my dream job,” Nadia said. “This place is too old and the structure is weak, when it rains it leaks, we have no heating and cooling system, yet we withstand it all, we are lucky.”

The bookstore gets used books that are no longer wanted. People give these books to them and can take any other item from the bookstore in return according to Nadia.

The Downtowne Bookstore has a character of it’s own: a creaking wooden floor and pictures and statues of owls in all different sizes, which often make onlookers question their abundant presence.

The owls are all gifts, given to them by random visitors over the years from all over the world. The name of the first owl is “Barney Bee.” The name was decided by a girl through a competition in 2003.

The craftwork used as decor around the bookstore includes a Victorian wreath that was made with pages rolled into cones from an old book. There are vintage book clocks, which are all handmade, and some locally made paintings hung around as well.

There are reports of paranormal activity inside The Downtowne Bookstore. Nadia recalls a personal experience of hers when she and her sister had first taken over the bookstore and were standing at the counter discussing the next course of action, when a book fell off from between a well-organized bookshelf.

“The surprising part was that there was no kind of movement in an around the bookstore or shelf, so what could make the book fall all by itself?” Nadia said.

Several paranormal expert teams like Parklands Paranormal Pictures and IE Paranormal Investigation Team have done investigations at the bookstore and found strange happenings in its basement and the store’s main floor.

Nadia and Vera spend much of their time from opening till midnight at the bookstore and have been unharmed.

“It gets a little spooky, but then it is an old place,” Nadia said.

The books are reasonably priced, but they do not sell textbooks or brand new books. This old school bookstore also doesn’t accept card transactions below $10.

They also generate orders through Amazon, a survival strategy in a digital world.

Dianne Thi Nguyen / staff photographer barney bee: The original owl that keeps watch over The Downtowne Bookstore, named “Barney Bee” in 2003.
Dianne Thi Nguyen / staff photographer
barney bee: The original owl that keeps watch over The Downtowne Bookstore, named “Barney Bee” in 2003.

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Dianne Thi Nguyen / Staff Photographer spot the owls:  Vera Lee prices and prepares a new inventory of books to add to the already massive collection. Owls are peppered around the store, camouflaged among the books.
Dianne Thi Nguyen / Staff Photographer
spot the owls: Vera Lee prices and prepares a new inventory of books to add to the already massive collection. Owls are peppered around the store, camouflaged among the books.

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