For the love of books

Evart bookstore offers many genres, book exchange program

Taking Care of Business Name of business: Northon’s Shire Bookshop Name(s) of business owner(s): RuthAnn and B. J. Northon Number of employees: Owner/operators only Address: 110 N. Main St. in Evart Phone number: (231) 734-3752 Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to noon Saturday; and closed Sundays Established: 2002
EVART — Sitting behind the desk of his small Evart bookstore, B.J. Northon can easily get lost in the pages of a novel. From the “Lord of the Rings” series to “The Hobbit,” the businessman sees each unread book as a literary adventure waiting to happen. When he opened Northon’s Shire Bookshop 10 years ago, Northon hoped to encourage the same passion in others. The store offers a variety of genres for all ages, as well as a book exchange program for avid readers. “I actually started selling books in the seventh grade,” Northon said. “I was in debate club and we had a book stand to raise money for the club.” Northon also sold books off and on through college and owned a book store in Reed City. He opened his current store in 2002. Though his bookstore now sees competition with online bookstores and electronic e-readers, Northon said there still is nothing like seeing a grandparent come to his store and buy a book for their grandchild. Having seen a decline in business since the release of the last Harry Potter book in 2007, Northon hopes to keep offering literature to the Evart community for years to come. “We’ll keep it open for as long as we can afford to keep the lights on,” Northon said. This month, the Herald Review shines its business spotlight on Northon’s Shire Bookshop, located at 110 N. Main St. in Evart. HERALD REVIEW: Give a brief explanation of what your business does or specializes in.
B.J. NORTHON: We are a new and used bookstore, specializing in children’s books, fantasy, science fiction and general fiction with the avid reader in mind. We have a book exchange program which allow credit for your used books that can be used to purchase our used books. There is an exchange fee of 50 cents per book. What is one thing most people don’t know about your business? NORTHON: That we are here! After 10 years on Main Street, we still get people in every week who ask when we opened or how long we’ve been here. We have customers who have been coming to us since we opened who are amazed that we have been able to stay open.   How does your business give to the community? NORTHON: We provide a way for young people and adults to discover, develop and nourish their love for reading and books. Many of our customers are grandparents bringing their grandchildren in to find a book they can personally own and enjoy. Often, the chosen book is one which the parent or grandparent loved growing up. That is a very special connection that lasts a lifetime.   What is an interesting trend you’ve seen with your company or customers? NORTHON: I don’t know how interesting, as it could mean the eventual demise of small, independent bookshops like ours, but there is a rapidly growing trend to buy everything, including books, online to save a few dollars, sales tax and gas money. Many of these online sellers have bankrupted themselves trying to gain market share, but enough survive to potentially put brick-and-mortar stores out of business in all but the largest, most specialized markets.   What is the best and worst thing about being in the business that you’re in? NORTHON: The best thing is meeting young people with the same insatiable desire to read that I had as a youngster, and still have. I would have to say that the worst thing is not having more business, which for me translates to less readers in the community. With so many other types of entertainment vying for people’s time, reading has become a low priority. People don’t realize how reading affects everything else they do in life, such as reading directions on medicines, reading maps, reading instructions at work or labels on food and other items you purchase and so on.   Any last comments? NORTHON: Thanks to all the people in the community who have supported us in the past. The money and time they spend in shopping locally supports everything in the community, including schools, roads, fire department, police and so much else we rarely think about.