Small, elegant bookshop opens in Marshall | Provides comfort with literature, open space
Hiding around a corner of east Arrow Street sits a small stairwell, where if patrons walk up will notice a classic, black mailbox which reads “A House for Stories Bookshop.” Looking to their left, patrons will also find a glass door with books resting in the middle. Once patrons open the door, they will soon find themselves in a neat, open spaced area with several books lining different shelves, with chairs and tables at just about every corner.
“So I first opened it up online, and that was in January,” bookshop owner Christy Merrick said. “Then had such a positive response and folks asked if I would think about doing a brick and mortar. At the time, that was not on my radar because I was focused on … we’re in a pandemic and trying to keep people safe — and my response was if God wants it to happen, God’s going to have to make it happen.”
A month later she noted she had been approached about renting the space located on 111 E. Arrow St. Looking over her funds, Merrick stated it was something she could finally afford to do.
“I took possession of it (on) March 1,” she continued. “Within 30 days it was open, and on April 1 we opened our doors. In our first month, we had over 225 customers that came through. And that has continued to grow each month. We’ve got returning customers already. … I have people who — they come in. So we buy, sell, trade and take donations, and nothing used in the shop is over $4.99. That’s mostly the hardbacks.”
Merrick stated she has received a lot of help from family, friends and the overall community.
“I have the greatest job in the world,” she said. “I tell people this is more than a bookshop. … They said that it’s … just so peaceful and calming. And some have said it’s like a light in the darkness. But it is truly a community effort. I’m just the one that’s blessed with being able to unlock and lock the doors each day.”
During the bookshop’s opening and space’s renovations, Merrick added some of the items used to help liven up the bookshop were either donated or purchased through online swap shops. One of the projects she is currently working on is the children’s area.
“We’re still working on that,” Merrick explained. “My vision for that area is that it will be like the top of a treehouse. And we wanted some place where kids could go and read and just feel safe.”
She said she will more than likely work on the treehouse on Friday, June 25.
Other than buying, trading, selling and accepting book donations, Merrick stated the bookshop has a “vendors’ wall.”
“I have — what I’ve created is a vendors’ wall, and so it’s open to anyone who is trying to do something from home,” she said. “I don’t charge anything for it. I just want them to have some place to put out their trades and get the word out. Like I have a little girl who’s making pillows to go to — with the proceeds they’re going to go to her summer camp. And I have a retired professor who loves to take photographs of nature and make them into cards.”
As Merrick shared numerous times, for her it’s all about community.
“By August, we’ll have free WiFi,” she continued. “We are working on a game room where we will host like D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) kinds of stuff.”
Merrick added the bookshop also plans to host Nintendo Switch tournaments. She said she has even been asked about an Open Mic Night.
“I just feel like there’s nothing in the community for that group that aren't into sports and … are kind of on the outskirts of things,” Merrick noted. “They’re not into going to parties and drinking and that kind of stuff. That’s not their thing, and I want them to have some place that they can come to that’s safe and where they can just be them. My son and daughter-in-law — they just got married in May and so they moved back home and they love that kind of stuff.”
She explained along with another couple, her son and daughter-in-law plan to work on bringing those games to the bookshop.
“Book clubs are welcome to come in, writers’ groups are welcome to come in,” Merrick said. “My hours are 10-5, but I have no issues with staying open later than that. That was just my starting hours because I was here by myself.”
However, now that she has the help of her family the bookshop’s hours of operations may be extended. Merrick noted the bookshop even had its first art class for kids last Thursday, June 17, and plans to do another class this Thursday, June 24.
“It’s all about taking the leap of faith and trusting yourself and trusting that God’s got you and just doing it,” she concluded.
Residents can find out more about the bookshop by calling 660-238-5999 or visiting ahouseforstories.com.