About This Blog

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm not on board with the whole ebook thing. I enjoy books in all their formats. But there is nothing quite like a bookstore with its neatly arranged shelves of books and artfully created displays of new arrivals, best sellers, and suggested reading. I especially enjoy discovering small, independent bookstores and have made it my mission to visit and report back on as many of these gems as I can. That is my focus, but there is really nothing that is off limits as long as it is about books or reading. Hope you enjoy my blog and come back often.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Post-Dental Delight

Argos Book Shop
1405 Robinson Road
@ Lake Drive
Grand Rapids, MI

How can you make a trip to the dentist less painful? Follow it up with a stop at an interesting bookstore, of course. Lucky for me my dentist's office is not far from Argos Book Shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, so after recently enduring the discomfort and indignity of fingers and dental tools in my mouth, I treated myself to a soothing bookstore visit.

If you have been reading my blog lately, the name Argos may sound familiar. The store came into existence in 1975 under proprietor, Ray Walsh, who also owns Curious Book Shop and The Archives Book Shop in East Lansing. (See previous posts.) Argos is now owned and operated by Jim Bleeker who, after 20 years as an employee, purchased the store from Ray in 2005. Unfortunately, Jim was not in the shop at the time of my visit, but a friendly staff member named Jon, who fills in for Jim during lunch, vacations, and the like, was more than happy to show me around the store and answer my questions.

Located in a historic building in the eclectic Eastown area of Grand Rapids, the store, not surprisingly, features old wood floors and a tin ceiling. The walls are adorned with an interesting mixture of art, movie posters, and comic books. A mix of classic wood bookcases and simple shelving are filled to overflowing and seem to be spilling their contents into piles on the floor. Sprinkled around the store here and there are chairs to accommodate longer browsing as well as the occasional step stool making upper shelves more accessible.

Although Argos has some collectible and rare titles, Jon says the store's focus is more on copies for reading pleasure than on high-end collectible books. Argos is a store where readers will find a good value. Vintage science fiction paperbacks, for example, sell for only $1, and the store offers an educator discount making teachers frequent customers.

New and used comics are a specialty at Argos, and the shop has acquired a following of faithful comic book customers. Jim has become familiar with their preferences and is able to provide individualized customer service. Jon explained that new comics come into the store on Tuesday nights, so on Wednesday mornings the regulars come in to purchase items Jim has held aside for them. Once a year the store holds a Free Comic Book Day. Stacks of comic books are placed on the counter and customers are encouraged to take a few home for free. Now that is really a bargain.

Much of the store's stock is acquired from customers. Used books can be redeemed either for cash, or for greater value, customers can get double the cash offer in store credit.

It would be easy to lose track of time browsing the ample shelves, stacks, walls, and floors of Argos Book Shop. But with a major winter storm approaching west Michigan, I was keenly aware of the time. 

Jon was happy to answer my questions.
Just as I had decided to curtail my browsing, my attention was drawn to one of the framed art prints, a water color painting of winter at an old railroad station in Charlevoix, Michigan, a beautiful tourist town not far from our family cottage. I liked the print immediately and decided to purchase it to hang at the cottage. It will serve as a reminder that I intend to visit the lovely town of Charlevoix as I am quite certain that I will find a bookstore or two there. It will also serve as a reminder of my visit to Argos Book Shop and how it helped me forget all about the pain of the dentist.

No comments: