ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRENDA CONYERS
It has been said you can find anything you want on the popular Internet auction “eBay.” This week the eBay browser can find a corner of Marion there.
With such descriptions as….
“Set in the lovely artistic community of Marion.”
“…the area is blooming, but it is a small town with friendly people, old-fashioned ice cream socials, and parades.”
“Small town living at its best, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg!”
It is hard not to be impressed and make an offer. Susan St. John, owner of the Bookish-R-We store in Marion is hoping someone will do just that. She and her family are prepared to sell the store as well as their house over the Internet.
“Having a bookstore is my lifelong dream,” said St. John. “But we need the community to want one, too.”
St. John is originally from California. She moved to Florida and ended up at Wichita State University, where she took creative writing as a graduate study.
While at WSU, she “discovered” Marion and loves it.
“This is a wonderful place,” she said. “We have ice cream socials, and they will carry your groceries to your car. I love the fact my son can ask for some candy at the store and out comes the bucket. Where else besides a friendly small town?”
Susan lives in Marion with her artist mother, Jayne St. John, her daughter, Celeste, her granddaughter, and her three sons.
Jayne St. John’s artwork is available in the store. She paints using oils, and will paint pictures according to the size, content and cost a person wants.
“Mom wants to share her love of art,” Susan said.
“We hate to see the store have to close,” said Jayne. “We have worked hard to have things people might want.”
Susan said her top sellers are westerns, popular fiction, Christian books and science fiction. She also offers DVD players, DVD rentals, greeting cards, and other gifts.
She said they started with her own set of books, which took one side of several shelves.
“Each month I tried to add to the inventory and to add things people wanted,” she said. “Last December we did great, but things have continued to slow down through the year.”
Now the store has many shelves with books of all kinds carefully lined up on both sides.
Susan said she was most amazed that children’s books don’t sell.
“We have new and used books,” she said, “and parents just don’t buy books for their kids, even the used ones that are in good shape.”
Used books sell for half price and lower and are in good condition. She also carries new books.
“The ‘Left Behind’ series is gong really well,” she said.
Susan loves not only having the “bookstore on the corner,” but enjoys the people who come in to browse and visit.
“I love getting to know my customers,” she said, “I have a particular group that likes science fiction. I don’t have a lot because as soon as they come in…they’re gone. But I know what my regulars like.”
She has also developed an e-commerce ready Web site with an electronic magazine, Random Ravings, that offers opportunities for would-be writers.
“There is a young man here in town that has wonderful potential,” she said. “He needs encouragement, and I try to help him out and encourage him to keep writing.”
His writing can be found on her Web site.
She also hopes to have local and area authors come in for readings, to start a children’s hour once again, and to write a successful novel.
She has completed one novel, Bullet Holes, Lethal Injections, and Hiccups, which is currently with her agent. She describes the story as an adult novel based on the Wizard of Oz theme.
“I don’t want to close the doors,” she said. “But I can’t compete with Wal-Mart and other stores out of town. Suppliers just don’t like to mess with a small business.”
St. John described her plans to settle down in Marion, finish raising her children, write books, and to retire here. “It is a wonderful place, and the people are very friendly.”
But, when across the counter comes bills and on limited income, the dream becomes a harsh reality.
“We just aren’t making it,” she said. “I don’t want to close the doors, and if the community would support it, we would stay.”
She chose to put the store on ebay as an option to see what interest there may be. The ad first appeared Sept. 29 and will continue to run for “a little while.”
She has already had a couple of calls from interested parties.
“I am not quite ready to offer it locally,” she said.
“I am still hoping things will fit together and we can keep the dream going.”