There’s a real treasure on North Main Street in the Village of Airport Drive, just outside of Joplin, Missouri. Located at 5357 North Main Street, Joplin, Missouri, the store is my frequent destination. Shining like a beacon for book lovers, Always Buying Books attracts readers from all over the area. Not only does the full line used bookstore stock thousands of books at great prices, they offer a wonderful selection of puzzles and even local honey when it’s in season.
Proprietor Bob Wolfe along with Store Manager Alyse Foley offer customers knowledgeable assistance while making them feel like family. Every time I walk through the door of Always Buying Books, I’m greeted personally by Bob or Alyse and often times both. Visiting the store always makes me happy.
Alyse Foley and Bob Wolfe taking the time to talk to me.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Bob and Alyse yesterday to learn more about my favorite bookstore. I learned one thing that will be of particular interest to readers in the Joplin area. Today, Saturday, March 13, 2021 is Customer Appreciation Day, also known as Free Book Saturday at Always Buying Books from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
They’re giving one free hardcover modern day fiction book from shelves of their fiction room to anyone who stops in to pick one up. These are books that usually sell for $4.00 to $5.00 each. The sale excludes the new arrivals displayed on the red racks and Stephen King books. There’s no purchase necessary, but I don’t know how a person could enter such a store and not buy at least a couple of books. I usually leave with a stack of them. If you stop in, be sure to tell them Ozarks Maven sent you.
These books are included in the Free Book Saturday Promotion.
These hardbacks will be included in Free Book Saturday.
Always Buying Books supports local nonprofits in their own unique way. They have tables and racks set up outside that are for sale by donation. You simply pick out what you want from the outdoor book buffet and leave your donation in a jar on the counter inside. You donate any amount you deem appropriate.
Donations collected benefit local nonprofits. In fact, Always Buy Books just made a donation to my nonprofit, Ozarks Writers League to help with our fundraising raffle. This is nothing new. They’ve been supporting local nonprofits for years. Always Buying Books has donated books to the Japer County Jail, Labette County Jail, Carl Junction Public Library, Salvation Army, Watered Gardens, Lafayette House, and are beginning a program to get large print books in local nursing homes.
In addition to supporting local nonprofits, Always Buying Books is a huge supporter of local authors, like me. They host book signings, offer Author in the House promos, and carry our books out of the goodness of their hearts. They charge us nothing for this wonderful support. They make us feel like rock stars and ask only that we put forth a good effort in promoting our events. That kind of bookstore, author relationship is pure gold.
One of the things I enjoy most is an event called Girls’ Night Out. For this event, ladies age 16 and older are invited into the store to shop special sales. You can put your name in a drawing for fun prizes, and winners are drawn every so often. There are snacks, beverages, and helpful volunteers who bring you a box when your arms are too full. It’s a festive atmosphere, which allows female readers to be themselves and have a lot of fun while shopping for a new book boyfriend, spine-tingling mystery, or crafting inspiration.
I truly enjoyed interviewing Bob Wolfe and Alyse Foley of Always Buying Books. I think I could probably have stayed and talked to them all day if time had permitted. It’s my honor to Spotlight Local Business, Always Buying Books today.
1. For those people unfamiliar with your business, could you please tell us a little about Always Buying Books?
Bob: We’re always buying, selling, and trading books. We’re a full line bookstore, meaning we carry as many categories as we have space for. Of course, we can’t buy every book that comes in the door. Some just don’t sell.
Alyse: We carry most categories, but we don’t carry political books.
Bob is at home in the stacks.
2. Have you always wanted to be the proprietor of a bookstore?
Bob: I knew I was going to be. I didn’t question it. I went with it when the time came.
3. When and how did you start your business?
Bob: Always Buying Books was founded in 2001 in its current location with an inventory of 1,500 to 2,000 books. I put in a $6,000.00 initial investment and never invested another dollar. Average sales were $350.00 a week back then.
4. What made you decide to go into the bookstore business?
Alyse: Reading. Everybody should be able to read. I love books!
5. To what do you attribute your success?
Bob: Alyse coming on board with a whole new knowledge set. It was her idea to include Christian fiction and kids books. We now have 5,000 to 6,000 Christian fiction books and 10,000 kids books on the shelves. They’re very popular.
6. What made you choose your current location?
Bob: I had my eyes on this building for a while. One day I drove by, and it was empty. I made a phone call and arranged to lease it.
7. What is unique about your business?
Bob: Sustainable living books. We have the most sustainable living books in the area. We carry more books in every one of our categories than our local competitors. We like to have several copies of each book. We buy books instead of just trading them. It enhances our inventory.
Alyse is showing off the great puzzle selection.
8. How long has your amazing manager, Alyse, worked for you?
Bob: Thirteen years. She and her family owned a bookstore in downtown Joplin when Always Buying Books opened. We were competitors. One day after their store closed, Alyse was in here shopping. I offered her a job because I knew she was knowledgeable and would be good for the store.
9. What is your favorite thing about working in a bookstore?
Bob: Taking in books. I’m like little eight-year-old Bobby on Christmas morning when I buy or trade for books.
Alyse: I love that feeling of opening a box of books and seeing what’s inside. It’s exciting.
10. What are your hours of operation?
Alyse: We’re open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
11. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your operation?
Bob: It’s increased business. We’re the only bookstore in the Four States that we know of that didn’t close last year. I contacted the Village of Airport Drive, and they said we were under the print media category and could stay open. It put us on the map. People could call ahead and tell us what they wanted, and we’d take it to their cars when they got here. That’s when we began our bags of kids books for $4.00. Alyse bagged books for hours and hours and still couldn’t keep up with demand.
Alyse: Our phone was ringing all the time with people asking if we were open. They were spending more time at home and wanted to read. We had several people ask if we had puzzles, so we added them to our inventory, and they continue to sell well.
12. Are there any books that sell better than others?
Alyse: Jane Austen books are really popular. Kids today are reading the classics more. Other books we sell fast are Harry Potter books. They’re sold soon after we take them in. Books by Agatha Christy, James Patterson, CJ Box, and Nora Roberts also fly off the shelves.
13. Are you planning a Girls’ Night Out in the near future?
Alyse: Yes. We’ll probably have one next month. Girls’ Night Out was actually Bob’s idea and has been one of our most successful promotions.
Nora Roberts is so popular, she gets her own wall.
One of my greatest pleasures in life is curling up on the couch with a good book and steaming cup of rich coffee. If you share that joy with me, I recommend you check out Always Buying Books for your next great read. Tell them Ozarks Maven sent you.
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Always Buying Books has a great selection of Dick and Jane Books.