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Friends Books on Main store to hold grand opening Friday in Rock Hill

Debbie Turner, York County Library community relations manager, and David Needham, president of the Friends of York County Library, in Friends Books on Main, a new bookstore in downtown Rock Hill..
Debbie Turner, York County Library community relations manager, and David Needham, president of the Friends of York County Library, in Friends Books on Main, a new bookstore in downtown Rock Hill.. Courtesy of Friends of the York County Library

One of downtown Rock Hill’s newest stores is owned and operated by a nonprofit group that has been the York County Library’s staunchest supporter for four decades.

The Friends of the York County Library is opening its first permanent location at 206 E. Main St. in the heart of Rock Hill’s historic commercial district. A grand opening is set for 10 a.m. Friday. Mayor Doug Echols will cut the ceremonial ribbon.

Plans are for Friends Books on Main to be open Friday and Saturday, April 15-16, and April 22-23, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Additional days will be added as the 501(c)(3) organization assesses the revenue potential and determines how to best utilize its volunteers.

“Opening a permanent location has long been our dream,” said David Needham, Friends president.

The one-story building is lined with shelves and tables, filled with thousands of used books, filed by category and alphabetically by author. Most hardcover books, tapes and DVDs will be priced at $2, with children’s books at $1 and mass market paperbacks at 50 cents.

Proceeds from book sales support the York County Library in various ways, including contributing $35,000 for the annual summer reading program held at all of the library’s five branches.

If the store concept is a success, it will replace the Friends quarterly book sales, which have been held at locations around Rock Hill, including the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Oratory.

The Friends will continue to hold annual sales at branches in Fort Mill, York, Clover and Lake Wylie, Needham said.

Moving 400 cartons of books and setting up tables to hold them has been time-consuming and expensive, he said. “Most of our members are retired, so we have to pay people to help move boxes.”

Although the Friends receives surplus books from the public library, as much as 90 percent of the books are donated by individuals, including people who drop books in bins at the library’s five branches.

“Many of our repeat customers will return books they bought at a previous quarterly sale,” said Debbie Turner, community relations manager for the York County Library, who also serves as liaison to the Friends.

In addition to reducing heavy lifting, the new store could help solve one of the Friends’ biggest challenges: What to do with unsold books. Few realize that the 10,000 to 15,000 books the Friends offered for sale each quarter were “new” used books. Given limitations of manpower and storage space, the unsold books had to be disposed after each sale.

Unfortunately, some wholesalers who in years past bought unsold books in bulk have gone out of business, Turner said, leaving recycling as the only option – a thought that makes book lovers shutter.

Needham said he surveyed businesses that conceivably might view their operation as a rival, including a recently opened book and record store a few doors down Main Street, but none sees Friends Books on Main as a threat.

“We think we’ll draw people,” he said. “I’m pretty sure some of the 700 to 900 people who attend our quarterly sales have never been to downtown Rock Hill.”

Two downtown businesses, Amelie’s and Provisions, the bakery bistro and specialty foods shop, respectively, already display Friends’ books, turning over the proceeds to the nonprofit group.

Want to go?

Friends Books On Main grand opening

10 a.m., Friday

206 E. Main St., Rock Hill

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, April 15-16, April 22-23

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