The Paperback Book Exchange in Neenah, a tucked away gem in a busy part of town, looks like your typical used book store. It’s walls are covered from door-to-door, floor-to-ceiling with thin, wooden shelves covered in hardcovers and, of course, paperbacks. Even the little hallway leading into the second room is covered in literature. But it’s the company of the literary personalities who run the shop that make it a unique experience.
“Like you, I like anything and everything books,” said store owner Tina Hoerauf after I introduced myself as the girl who runs the blog she’d been so kindly interacting with lately.
As I looked around at some of the details, I noticed hidden festive treasures adorned throughout, such as the Christmas trees made out of book pages and pen holders in the shape of coffee mugs decorated in books — all camouflaged against the backdrop of their brothers and sisters.
The two women who greeted me at the shop shared wide grins. It was one of those rare retail moments when you realize that you’re giving business to those who love what they do everyday.
That’s one of the best reasons to shop at your local, small bookstores; you get to put a face and personality to the character of the shop! The other woman working was there to ask if I needed help finding anything, which I appreciated because sometimes bookstores can seem like a maze when you first enter them. I mentioned how much I liked their Beatles items on the top shelf, which appeared more as decoration than as sale items, but Sarah instinctively grabbed me a ladder so I could get a better look.
“We’re very accommodating here!” Tina laughed.
Another reason to shop local and small are for the love of pets (People with cat allergies beware!). Annaboo is Tina’s adopted, white feline who sits on a comfy pillow at the corner of the purchasing counter with a sign that reads something along the lines of, “Please do not pet me, I am not feeling well today!” You see, Annaboo has cancer. She has her good days and bad days. But no matter how she feels, she’s always cheering people up while sauntering around the shop with you or keeping you company while purchasing your armful of books. She was having a good day that Small Business Saturday and purred at the counter while I purchased my book. Learn more about Annaboo here.
The Paperback Book Exchange is the kind of bookstore where things are subtlety labeled so as not to take away from the beauty of the books, yet you seem to know exactly where you’re going just by scanning titles. So I ended up in one of the back corners by my personal favorite sections: Literary Fiction. I eventually found myself among the old hardcovers in which Classic authors like Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allen Poe, William Blake, etc. normally dwell.
That’s when I spotted Virginia Woolf’s 1937 edition of The Years. We all have authors whom we collect and try to read over time as though their novels were written as a series (I have several authors I do this with), and Virginia Woolf just happens to be one of those authors for me. Being Small Business Saturday, the hardcover fiction novels were $1 off, so I purchased my thick hardback for only $4! I was in luck since I only had $5 on me. There were also some tasty cookies to nibble on and apple cider to drink while shopping. It was all laid out in red, green and gold decor near the front entrance to greet customers.
And yet another great thing about small, locally owned bookshops are the friendly regulars that make time to catch up between browsing endeavors. Whether they’re friends of the owner or a common acquaintance from regular visits, it’s always pleasant to hear chatter between friends when you’re among so many of them.
I recommend checking out the Paperback Book Exchange in Neenah when you get a chance! It is a treasure chest filled with jewels for fellow bookworms.