Algoma Library Friends Open Used Book Store

Up until this year, the weeks leading up to Algoma’s Shanty Days for the Algoma Library Friends went a little something like this:

Get the word out: Gently Used Books Wanted.

Watch as dozens of cardboard boxes filled to the brim with books arrive.

Four days before the annual Book Sale is to begin, volunteers gather to sort through these boxes (some stacked six feet high), categorize thousands of books by genre, and place these books in more boxes – hardbacks in banana boxes, paperbacks in berry boxes.

Just before daybreak on the Friday of Shanty Days, rope some of the husbands and good samaritans into carting 17 tables onto the Algoma library lawn where the Book Sale has happened for many years. Parade out the boxes of sorted books, mark their prices and make sure they are set up by 8 am. If you think of it, pray there is no rain.

For the next eight hours, enlist a small but mighty crew of mostly retired volunteers to help customers find books, make change, promote the final two hours of the sale as a “fill a bag full of books for $2” sale, and at 4 pm, cart too many leftover books and 17 tables back into storage for next year.

It is a routine Sue Hass, of the Algoma Library Friends, has gotten used to since moving to the area five years ago. As the Friends group’s major fundraiser of the year for the Algoma Public Library, it was an important routine. Those eight hours of selling used books to the public generated upwards of $4,000 for the nonprofit Friends, which has raised funds to support library programming and community events in the lakeside community since 1976.

Last year, the effort of setting up this one-day outdoor sale got to be too much and the Algoma Library Friends decided that in 2017, there would be no lawn sale.

Instead, the group began talking about making a different type of used book sale a reality.

“Pat Cichon, the president, said, ‘I’ve always had a vision of operating a used book store.’ We talked about it one day and we said let’s try it,” Hass said.

Algoma Library Friends opened the Book Corner on June 30 in Algoma. Photo by Len Villano.

On June 30, six weeks before the 2017 Shanty Days, the Algoma Library Friends opened the doors to the Algoma Book Corner, a permanent used book store at the corner of Third and State streets.

A cozy nook of a store, the Algoma Book Corner embodies the best of the Friends typical August sale, but in permanent form. There are all the genres you’d find in a library, along with audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, puzzles and a designated room for children and young adult literature.

The shop has all the makings of a library too, from spinning book racks to tables and chairs, thanks to donations from the Algoma Elementary School, the statewide library system, and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Sturgeon Bay.

“The community has come together,” Hass said. “We put the word out and asked for donations. A lot of people donated money but there were quite a few that donated their time in setting up all of these bookcases, because they were in pieces. Some man made us three sandwich boards, somebody else repaired some things…it’s been a community effort in that respect.”

The Algoma Book Corner is open 11 am until 3 pm on Friday and Saturday, and is completely volunteer driven. Donations of gently used books are accepted during open hours, and at the Algoma Public Library.

Hass said the store will offer once-a-month book sale specials, with Nov. 10-11 dedicated to half-off cookbooks to help cooks get a start on Thanksgiving dinner.

While Hass, who manages the Algoma Book Corner, admits the move from the annual lawn sale to a permanent location is nerve-wracking, the results have been positive. Since opening four months ago, the store has generated nearly $6,000 in the sale of used books.

For a business whose most expensive product is $2, it’s a good sign that a market remains for quality used books.

“Now we can offer our patrons books year round whereas if you happened to be out of town that Friday, you missed out on the sale,” Hass said. “It’s a service to the people in the community that we have this year-round book store and also I think it helps Algoma to have another viable store downtown.”

For more information, find Algoma Book Corner on Facebook.

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