I stopped in at my favorite local bookstore today, Last Exit Books on Main Street in Kent. I really love going in there. It has been open for most of the seven years that we have lived here, and it has grown at a truly amazing rate. The owner has boxes and boxes of books outside the shop in the hallway, and he assures me, many more in storage. It's a used book store, perhaps I should mention that, and I am certain that some days the owner - whose name I learned on line today is Jason Merlene - takes in more books than he sells. I don't think he minds, though.
Jason is always at the front desk reading or checking out new acquisitions, and he greets everyone who comes in with a shy smile. He frequently has the radio on. Today he was listening to a Cleveland Indians baseball game. I have been there when he was listening to Cavs basketball, as well. One day when I went in, he was listening to George Bush. "Well," I said to him with a grin, "I guess I can stand listening to him if I don't have to see his face as well." "No, I think I've listened long enough," was his reply, "It's just more of the same." Just as often, there will be music playing, much of which I don't know, but I have heard Richard Thompson, and Bob Dylan, and once I heard an awesome version of "Parchman's Farm," but I don't know who it was by.
The bookstore occupies several small rooms one behind the other, in a storefront on Main Street. When I first came to college here in the early 70's this space was part of McCrory's, a dimestore similar to Woolworth's or Ben Franklin's. My roommate and I bought buckets and throw rugs there, and when winter came, we bought red plastic saucers to slide down Taylor Hill. Now I buy books there, almost always coming home with at least one or two. I thought I had better stop in now instead of later, as once the students come back, the small shop tends to be more crowded, and quiet browsing is more difficult.
Sad to say, we have only a handful of interesting, funky stores here in Kent that seem to me to quintessentially belong in a small college town. Last Exit Books is definitely one of them. Check it out next time you are in town. Better yet, let me know when you're going, and I'll go with you.