Sharon Swanson’s store space will have separate rooms for fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, and more. Photo: John Boivin

Castlegar businesswoman bringing joy to book-lovers

City to have first used book store in nearly a decade

A Castlegar woman is coming to the aid of local bookworms who’ve been waiting for years for a used-book shop of their own.

Sharon Swanson plans to open Second Look Used Books in mid-October.

It will be the first used book store in the city since the 2000s.

“I grew up in small communities where it was cold and there wasn’t much to do. As children we were encouraged to read,” says Swanson. “And I’m a book lover. There’s nothing better to having a book with you when you’re travelling or a vacation or to take to the doctor’s office.”

But having the idea of a book store, and making it happen, are two different things. And Swanson says at first it was tough going.

“My uncle runs Page One Books in Trail,” she says. “Originally I started travelling to Trail, and picking out books individually and putting them in boxes. I had about 450. I thought ‘Jeez, at this rate it’s going to take forever.’”

That all changed in the summer, when they tracked down a Nelson businessman who was shutting down his collectibles and book store. In a single sweep, Swanson bought about 18,000 books, and all the shelving they were on.

“I rented a 26-foot U-haul truck, and went to Nelson and just started packing books,” recalls Swanson. “I hired guys to lift the boxes and put them in the truck. In the end it took two loads to move them here.”

Swanson’s rented the old radio station storefront on 4th Street, in the building across from the post office. Her boxes of books are now stacked along the walls and in rooms, awaiting sorting and shelving.

“I’ll be here seven days a week for the next three weeks,” she laughs.

Besides selling books, she’ll also be taking in trades for credit.

“It all depends on the condition of the book when it comes in,” she explains. “If it’s clean, not dog-eared or tattered, the book will be half the regular shelf price.”

Swanson’s not worried that technology is rendering book stores obsolete.

“I’m not really worried about Kindle or downloading books,” says Swanson, who loves crime and mystery novels herself. “Because there are still lots of old school people like me who want to go out, pick up a book, feel the weight of it, smell the smell of it… it’s all about the sensations that go along with reading.”

Swanson hopes to make the store a comfortable place for people to hang out and browse. She wants to have art on the walls, comfy chairs scattered around, as well as book-related items for sale — reading lamps, bookmarks, cards, and more.

She’s pretty sure the time’s right for a used book store in town.

“There’s one in Nelson and one in Trail, and I know a lot of people travel to them. So this will be more convenient for people to have access to books they can purchase, books to collect, or to have a stash for a rainy day,” she says. “I’m excited. Everyone seems excited.

“They say ‘it’s about time’. People like books, but books are expensive.”

Not as much any more, at least in Castlegar.

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