Ten minutes from my house is one of Florida's largest independent book stores. Haslam's may not look super spectacular from the outside, but isn't there a rule about not judging a book by its cover?
Walk through the door and that smell hits you. Nope, not the coffee brewing in the cafe like at Borders and Barnes & Noble (and yes, I do love those stores too). I'm talking about the smell of books. The potpourri of used books, new books, old and worn covers and pages. 30,000 square feet of stories.
They have books in glass cases--the very old, rare, or expensive. You might even see a cat napping on top of the shelves, or a ghost strolling the aisles. Would you expect any less from a store that's been in business since 1933?
John and Mary Haslam opened their used book and magazine store during the depression.
Three generations have kept it going, and growing. It may have changed a bit over the decades, but when I visit I can sense the history of the store and feel all the love that kept it in business: the Haslam family, the loyal customers, the many tourists, the authors, and the readers. As I thumb through pages and gawk at the endless assortment of literature, time almost stands still, or at least rewinds a smidge. Even during the depression people knew books were important. Over seventy years later we're in a recession but books are STILL important.
Superstores may have changed the book retail industry. E-readers and the internet may be changing the world of publishing, but we adjust. The world adapts accordingly. Sadly, many mom-and-pop stores have gone out of business, but I LOVE that Haslam's has persevered.
A great story exists behind this store of stories, and I hope Haslam's continues for many more decades. Because sometimes--even though I do love me some coffee--I don't want the smell of brand new books and a cafe in a big chain store. I want to smell history, and remember that most heartwarming stories start with a dream and evolve with a lot of love and support.
Just like Haslam's.
Do you support independent bookstores in your area? I'd love to hear about others that have survived the changing times.
Haslam's is located at 2025 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, FL
Interview - C. Lee Mckenzie
1 day ago