Shelf Life Community Bookstore to open Collector’s Room Saturday

Published 10:11 am Friday, November 23, 2018

NILES — A new book room that will feature collectors’ items and rare finds is opening inside Shelf Life Community Bookstore just in time for Small Business Saturday.

The Collector’s Room will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. inside Shelf Life Community Bookstore, 223 N. Fourth St.

The addition to the nonprofit bookstore was inspired by Al Casperson, who also played a role in helping Shelf Life to get its start. Like purchases made from the rest of the store, proceeds from the Collector’s Room will support the Niles DDA Main Street and 10 percent of profits to the Niles District Library.

Inside the Collector’s Room, people will find an array of adult and children’s books, hand-picked by Casperson. The shelves are stocked with limited edition items, older historical books, fine bindings and books with steel engravings tucked among the pages. Other collectibles will include old calendars, newspapers and magazines, to name a few.

While Shelf Life features a wide variety of books and continually sees new material donated, Casperson said he believes the Collector’s Room will draw an even larger customer basis to the shop.

“Your book collector will haunt places where they think stuff is going to be there tomorrow that was not there today,” Casperson said. “Once you get to that point, you will see regulars in here constantly. Books aren’t dead.”

Bookstore manager April Gargis said she is excited to have even more to offer book lovers.

“I think people will be willing to spend a little more money on an older or better-quality book,” she said. “It is sort of two-fold, not just for the book collectors, but art as well.”

The prices inside the Collector’s Room range from $5 to $150. Shelf Life’s regular collections cost 50 cents for children’s books, $1.50 for paperbacks and $2.50 for hardcover books.

Casperson said the collection customers view Saturday is just the beginning. With tons of books in storage, Casperson said he is excited to soon add more to the shelves in the Collector’s Room. He also encouraged people to contact the Niles DDA Main Street to donate books that. Arrangements can be made for Casperson to pick up the books if they call.

“The funds will benefit downtown – it’s almost like they are volunteering,” Casperson said. “They are not physically volunteering, but volunteering their books to make money for the DDA to put on events.”

Shelf Life Community Bookstore opened during the Hunter Ice Festival last year. The bookstore is run entirely by volunteers and proceeds from the operation help to support the cause.

Casperson had owned and operated his own bookstore, A. Casperson Books on Third Street, for about five years, before he closed shop. As a member of the Niles DDA Main Street Casperson said he started thinking about how a volunteer-run bookstore could provide books to the community and support the Main Street program.

“The idea for this whole endeavor was to free the DDA from being reliant upon TIFA (state funding) and reliant on events that they put on for funding,” Casperson said.

With leftover books from his bookstore, Casperson suggested to Lisa Croteau, the Niles DDA Main Street director, that they use the books to open up their own shop to raise money.

Gargis said sales have improved from last year. She said more is ahead for the bookstore, including eventually having merchandise to purchase online.


Got collector’s items to donate?

Drop them off at the Shelf Life or contact the Niles DDA Main Street, at (269) 687-4332 to arrange a house call.