BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
For avid book readers, a bookstore is both an exciting and dangerous place. Every row of books presents another new adventure behind the book covers and another opportunity to invest in your private book library. “The bookshop has a thousand books, all colors, hues, and tinges, and every cover is a door that turns on magic hinges,” says Nancy Byrd Turner. The bookstore, for many, creates excitement as readers look for the latest book that has been published or for a classic. Books and Stuf in Mena is where book readers come to start a new adventure and gain knowledge.
Over the last 40 years, many things have come and gone in Mena, but Books and Stuf has become a staple in downtown Mena. While the bookstore has been a consistent mainstay in Mena, Books and Stuf is undergoing changes, one of those being ownership. New owner, Jennifer Schubbe, explains the transition, “I bought the business two months ago, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I officially took over. The time in between was used for transition and so that I could learn the ropes.” There certainly was a lot to absorb considering there was a staggering 60,000 books in the store when she arrived and 30,000 of those are unique books, meaning there aren’t duplicates.
Throughout the years of Books and Stuf service to the community, the book collection has grown and the desire for reading from patrons is growing as well, causing Jennifer to be creative with the space. “We are currently undergoing some remodeling. Some of the remodeling is painting, but we are also trying to rearrange things to maximize space. I want to carry on the tradition of the previous owner and provide a great place for people to read so we are looking at how to maximize everything,” explains Jennifer. One of the ways that Jennifer is looking to maximize space and serve the community better is by creating a reading area for customers, “I really want this to be a place that somebody can bring their coffee and sit down and get lost in a good book,” smiles Jennifer.
Jennifer acquired her love for reading at a young age, attributing her desire to being in a ‘reading family’. “When I got interested, I was hooked. I wanted to read any good book I could find and I loved the knowledge I would gain.” A true book reader loves to take their book everywhere they go and maybe even mark it up, for this reason Jennifer loves book stores, “Don’t get me wrong, I love libraries, but I love bookstores more because at a bookstore I can buy a book and never return it,” says Jennifer laughing.
As an advocate for reading and books, Jennifer would also like to start some kind of literacy program for kids and adults at the store. “I just really believe that knowledge is power and I believe if someone can read, they can do anything.” Books and Stuf is not only a good book store, but a business that wants to give back to the community and provide varied resources for the community. Along with reading clubs and literacy programs, Jennifer also actively advocates for the local Humane Society of the Ouachitas [HSO]. “Some of our proceeds from sales here are going to help support the HSO with needs they might have at the shelter. I want to be a community book store in every way.”
While Books and Stuf is under new ownership, Jennifer hopes to continue the legacy that was before her and continue that tradition of excellence. “Customers that will come in will notice that many things are still the same, but we have many new exciting things. We have toys and games that are book related, along with book related jewelry and décor.” Books and Stuf still has the same great selection that patrons have come to expect and love, including Westerns, Cook Books, and authors like Stephen King and Dean Koontz. “My biggest goal is to put one good book in someone’s hands that they can enjoy. We always have a book sale and so we want to make things affordable for people. Sometimes I will even buy books from customers, but even if I can’t buy them, I will give them store credit to shop with,” explains Jennifer. In addition to these services, Jennifer can special order books for customers that can’t find just what they are looking for in the store and now customers can pay for their new read with their credit card. Another feature of being a local book store is that Jennifer carries books of local authors, “I have several books of local authors and we will consign local authors that want to bring their books in.”
Books and Stuf is a friendly environment to come and enjoy a good selection of books and for readers to add to their current collection. To see the wide selection of books, drop in the store located at 410 Sherwood Avenue at the Mena Mini Mall or visit their Facebook page, Books and Stuf.