Blogging time has been scarce this week, but I’m still here.
Let’s talk about bookstores!
Good bookstores have become disturbingly hard to find and even the big chain stores are getting scarce. Matters are worse for me, as we haven’t had a good bookstore in my town for 20 years.
In a university town. How does that happen?!
So I’m always happy to explore a new bookstore. When I find one that excites me I make sure to share the wealth.
Such is the case with 2nd & Charles.
Tucked away in a residential corner of Dayton, Ohio is a quirky old mall called the Town and Country Shopping Center. It’s an odd location that looks like they took an upscale strip mall and covered the front, creating an atrium and making it a pseudo-indoor mall. One of the downsides to this design is that the stores have very little visibility from the outside. I’m an infrequent visitor to the area and I didn’t know there was a bookstore in the mall, until I happened to drive around behind the building and saw its rear entrance. This was a while ago but I didn’t have time to investigate the store until yesterday.
I was very glad I did. My wallet, not so much.
2nd & Charles offers an eclectic mix of treasures. It sells both new and used items that include books, magazines, comics and graphic novels, music, collectibles, toys, new and vintage game systems, and just about any other fandom-related thing they can get their hands on.
The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and the geek is strong with them. I felt right at home. The store is larger than I expected, neat, and well organized. Best of all, it’s full of product. Some stores have a disturbingly small selection despite having plenty of shelf space. Not so here and they make good use of their space without crossing the line into cluttered.
Their supply of gaming materials isn’t large, but it is interesting. Among a few obligatory Pathfinder books I found other items such as 1st edition AD&D hardbacks, a few Rifts books, a smattering of 1st edition Vampire books, and a few more exotic games from the 80’s and early 90’s. Many of these had clearly come from people’s collections, with some wear showing on the covers and occasional margin notes. One book still had several character sheets sticking out of it. It’s obvious the staff saw them when shelving and decided to leave them with the book.
They understand the appeal. They are of our geekish tribe.
They even had a boxed set of MERP, Middle Earth Role Playing, from Iron Crown Enterprises. MERP was a big deal back in the 80’s, being both the official Tolkien role playing game and a stripped down version of I.C.E.’s Rolemaster RPG. Their sourcebooks were excellent and their artwork was always top notch. The box was in good condition and reasonably priced, so it nearly came home with me. If it’s still there next time that may change.
I was particularly pleased with a display of vintage board games. The sign said, “Kids, this is real retro-gaming. All analog!” The games on display included several true classics, such as Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and the old Avalon Hill Starship Troopers bookcase game.
In the end I spent slightly more than I should have and much less than I wanted to. Woe be unto my bank account if my next visit is closer to payday.
2nd & Charles turns out to be a modest-sized chain, with 23 locations nationwide. If you happen to have one near you, check it out. If the Dayton store is any indication you won’t be disappointed.