Barnwood Books:They didn't close - they just moved!
They didn't close - they just moved!
By Jennifer LB Leese
The Hagerstown area has its share of large chain bookstores, but the Hub also has a few small unique independent shops that give their communities character.
Barnwood Books is one to see! The bookstore is a few doors down from its former location and now sets between the Maryland Theatre and the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in downtown Hagerstown. Everything was moved down on carts and moved in one night. "It was a lot of work," said Allen Butts, owner of Barnwood Books.
Mr. Butts bought the bookstore in November 2010 from Evadell Staley. She and her husband, Jack, who recently passed away, bought the store in 1984. Immediately after purchasing the business, Mr. Butts started looking for a new location. Luckily he found one close by and in the same community. "When I bought [the bookstore] I made the decision that it needed to be moved because the heat [at the old building] was an issue and leaking was a factor as well. I wanted to provide something that was a little more appropriate for the customers," he said. "This is a better location."
The large bookstore has at least 150,000 books between those on the floor and those in the basement. Mr. Butts stored books that had four or more copies and added them to his basement inventory. This not only increases his inventory, it also allows him to rotate books often, which in turn gives the customer more of a variety.
Originally from Berkeley Springs, Mr. Butts moved to Greencastle, where he runs a cabinet shop. A few of his pieces can be seen at the bookstore. Allen Butts is the third owner of Barnwood Books and plans to keep it in the community where it originated. "This place has a history and I didn't see any reason to move it and take it away from the community," he said. The owners that Jack Staley bought it from started it in 1974. "No one knows why it's called Barnwood Books."
Although he'd like to see more faces walk into his store, business is going fairly well. "Things are picking up," he said. "Overall it's going to do well.
"New lettering will be placed on the windows this week. I'm using the same style of lettering."
Other than the location, Barnwood Books is entering the world of technology with a website which will have ordering capabilities, free wi-fi, and credit card acceptance. "It's not just about me. It's a great place for people who want to come and look and not be pestered or bothered," Mr. Butts said.
Customers are welcome to stop by, look around, and have a cup of coffee or piece of candy in the reading nook area while enjoy a book. With extended hours, open 6 days a week, Saturday 9 to 6 and Wednesdays til 9, Barnwood Books has an inviting, friendly, and comfortable feel. The lighting is just right - not too harsh or invading. It's the perfect place to spend a rainy autumn afternoon or a snowy morning, or a hot summer afternoon.
Barnwood is an old-fashioned used bookstore where the smell of old books - a mix of death, happiness, sex, and rockability, fills the air. The shop is chock-full of row after row of shelves upon shelves of books of all genres.
Old poetry is Mr. Butts' favorite. A large selection sits by the front door. "[Books will always be around.] They'll never take all this history away," he said, "people won't allow it.
"You go and buy an expensive book reader - it's great while you have it - that is until you drop it.
"Say you're reading a [name brand book reader] under a tree and it's battery runs out - well, you can't read your book anymore. Now if you have a book you can read the whole thing if you want - it is what it is," said Mr. Butts, smiling.
Book readers are fun occasionally, but you can't curl up and fold back the pages, or dog-ear the corner if you forgot a bookmark - when you have a book you can touch it, smell it, absorb it.
Mr. Butts would eventually like to open another bookstore in Greencastle. He would also like to see book clubs, book discussion groups, children's story hour, and poetry readings taking place at the bookstore soon.
Barnwood Books is a vital part of the community. "I want it to be a success," he said. "I want to see some of the old customers come in - find us." So if you're reading this - they didn't close - they just moved! Visit them today.
Barnwood Books is located at 15 S. Potomac Street in downtown Hagerstown. Keep your eye out for their website, www.barnwoodbooks.com, in the near future and be sure to check out their ad/coupon in the Picket News. For more information call 301-790-0606.