Thursday, March 22, 2018

321 Books - St. Petersburg, FL

321 Books, St. Petersburg, FL
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If I were going to open a used bookstore (I'm not) or if I knew someone who was, I would put Tim R. on my cell phone speed dial.  Tim is the owner of 321 Books in St. Petersburg, in business for just over a year.  This guy is informed, knowledgeable, business-savvy, and on top of it all one friendly person to visit with about the store and the book business.  I cannot possibly recount everything he told me but it was enough to understand his book business is like nothing I've encountered.  The store is located in the Tyrone Square Mall, in a former GAP store, not a typical space for an independent bookstore.  But from my visit, I only saw the tip of the iceberg of this incredible operation.

The store is home to over 90,000 books but there will always be an emphasis for kids.  Tim is looking to give books away to kids and in their first year gave away 700,000, 300,000 short of his one million goal.  Schools and school librarians would be wise to contact 321 Books and Tim to ask about free books.  He acquires his inventory from several sources, including many charitable organizations.  The store buys 100,000 lbs of books a week, or 50 tons (you might want to reread that sentence).  There is a huge warehouse to store this inventory and Tim has enough to open 7-8 additional 321 stores, something that he is actively pursuing.  Those 90,000 books are only a fraction of the store's business.  The volume of books that come into the warehouse include books that are of value to collectors and others.  Those books are offered and sold online which is a big part of the business.

The store is very spacious, roomy, and light.  It does not have the feel of a used bookstore and you will love the prices, $3 for hardbacks and $1-2 for paperbacks.  They have lots of kid's events that include Disney characters, Santa Claus, and the Easter bunny to name just a few.  I didn't smell books at this store but I did smell popcorn (more indies should do this!).  Grab a .25 bag of popcorn, find a book to sample, and enjoy one of their over-stuffed chairs.

You might think a bookstore is a dinosaur in a conventional mall setting.  Not so here.  321 Books has more Facebook likes and reviews than all of the other mall's stores combined!  Congratulations 321 and Tim on your 1st year of business and a great start.

This bookstore is a rising star and I think there will soon be more to go along with it.  It's on the cusp of big things and is poised to shake up the industry.  Check this one out and you'll see what I mean.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Blue Heaven, C. J. Box.  I've read two books by this author and loved them both.  This one is the story of two kids who witness a murder in the backwoods of Idaho.  The murderers know the kids saw them and now the chase is on.  A mystery/thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Origin, Dan Brown.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Not purchased but gifted, In The Unlikely Event, Judy Blume.  A 321 Books t-shirt.  Thanks Tim.    

An attractive storefront.

Yes, you'll be going to the Tyrone Square Mall to visit this store.  Don't worry, it's a good thing for this indie.  

The store has two entrances.  This is the entrance that looks into the children's department.  

I love the book art in this display window.  

Wow!  Bring your gift cards to this bookstore.  

This is the view looking into the main entrance, a great view of the store's space.  

This doubles as a Christmas tree during the holiday season.  

Looking to the right of the main entrance.  

This store did a bike give-away.  What a great idea!

A super table display for kids.  Check out the prices on the paper bag in the center of the table.  

Game Of Thrones fans, here you go.  

This headless mannequin stands over another terrific book display.  

I wish more indies would offer their regular customers sale incentives.  I think the one they have here is great.  Get a t-shirt and you will instantly have $20 of store credit.  Wear your shirt to the store on one of their VIP days and you can get anything in the store for a dollar.  

Great seats to try out a book.  

Or you can get serious and stretch out and pretend to read a book.  

Skip the shopping basket, you're going to need the shopping cart.  

A great deal for kids.  

Lots of CDs and DVDs to pick from with more coming into the store all the time.  

These prices are why you'll need a shopping cart.  

Yes, you might as well get a bag too.  

The store always has promotions.  

YES!  Please, more of this indies.  Very low overhead and .25/bag.  

Lots of book aisles like this one.  

Words to live by and another great place to sit and read.  

Overview of the store looking from the back toward the front entrance.  

With Tim on the right, the fine owner at 321 Books.  See that shirt I'm wearing?  Pick from a variety of 321 shirts and you'll instantly get $20 of store credit.  Thanks for a great visit.  

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