There's just something about the feel and smell of an old
It's summer days curled up on a porch chair with The Grapes of
Wrath, The Good Earth, Dandelion Wine, or some other classic. Or a
cold, wintery night sprawled on a couch with a dog-eared copy of a
Stephen King fright fest. It's yellowing pages and that odor that
brings back memories of visits to the town library as a kid.
Somehow e-readers just don't cut it.
"It's kind of like the comeback of vinyl records," points out
Ruthellen Weston, one of two co-managers of The Bookmobile at 58
Merchants Row in downtown Rutland. "It's retro and cool to be
reading books again. It restores my faith!"
Not that "cool" was the only motivation for Weston and her
long-time friend, Donald Babcock, to open their used bookstore back
on October 1 of 2012. But it certainly did help.
"People still read and they like to read books," Weston says.
"Even young people are buying the classics again." She relays the
story of a youngster that recently came into The Bookmobile and
bought six classic books. "I asked her what class she was taking
and she said she wasn't taking any. She just liked reading."
The timing for the opening of The Bookmobile could not have been
better for Rutland. The only used book store in town, Annie's Book
Stop that was out on Route 7, closed back in May of 2012. Both
Weston and co-manager, Donald Babcock did not like the hole that
this created and moved quickly to fill it last year. Or rather,
they wrote a new chapter for used books in Rutland.
"We read an article about Annie's closing and decided to take a
chance," says Babcock.
Weston and Babcock both attended Castleton State College and the
late 1970's/early 1980's and have been in this area ever since.
Weston, originally from Temple, NH received her B.A. in English
while Babcock, who grew up in Rye, NY, got his Bachelor's in Small
Business Management. They each have jobs outside of their new
business, which makes for a challenging schedule. Weston works at
Sandy's Bookstore and Bakery in Rochester, as well as Vermont
Website Design in Rutland, while Babcock is employed with Sidekick
Trading Card Company in Rutland.
The Bookmobile offers another bright spot in an apparent but
gradual renaissance of downtown Rutland.
"We're no longer the new place on the block," says Weston, who
notes that the Chaffee Art Center, Same Sun of Vermont, Small Dog
Electronics and other businesses have set up shop since The
Bookmobile opened its doors last fall. "Things are getting better
down here in terms of the economy."
"There aren't nearly as many empty storefronts as there were two
years ago," adds Babcock.
The Bookmobile, though not as expansive as Annie's space was,
fits like a glove in the downtown Rutland area. As one of the
Gryphon Square shops nestled in by The Sandwich Shoppe, it offers a
wide range of both hard and soft-cover, used books in categories,
ranging from the classics, poetry, music, fiction and sci-fi to
non-fiction, reference, architecture, gardening/farming, arts and
crafts, and much more. The store also has a limited selection of
new books both about Vermont and by Vermont authors.
In addition, there are greeting cards created by local artists
and a few other gift items for sale, such as coffee mugs and
welcome mats - one reads "You Are Here." Most used fiction is
priced in the $4 to $5 range, with paperbacks going for $1.75
"We're doing pretty well so far, but not ready to quit our day jobs
yet!" laughs Weston.
"Please come in and browse," adds Babcock.
The Bookmobile is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday
and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. For more information visit
Photos by Glenn Reed