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Eclectic bookstore seeks to expand niche: 

Larger space in St. Matthews brings challenges, rewards

by Caroline Lynch

The store, called A Reader's Corner Bookstore, is celebrating its move from a tiny, out-of-the-way space to a street-front location at Willis Avenue and Breckenridge Lane in St. Matthews.

Owners Tim and Judy Fout have had the store for nearly six years, and the move about three months ago from a hidden spot on Wilshire Avenue, also in St. Matthews, has given them three times the space and made room for 50,000 new, used, rare and out-of-print books.

The Fouts are hoping their new locale, and some inventory changes prompted by the move, will draw more customers.

Being in a more mainstream location also has brought customers looking for more mainstream books...

In response, the store is selling more new books, greeting cards and bookmarks.  The paperback fiction section, and others, have expanded.

The additional space also allows the couple to capitalize on the recent sale of locally owned Hawley-Cooke by filling a void its stores left...

"We're hoping remainders sell well at Christmas," he said, opening the cover of one hardback in the store to show the $6 price penciled inside the $30 book.

Though many Hawley-Cooke customers may find what they're looking for at chain stores, the Fouts think some of the more eclectic shoppers might be better served with their store.

Most books are priced between $5 and $15, but some rare books are as high as $600.  Beyond prices, A Reader's Corner offers a shopping experience different from at a chain...

In the fiction section recently, customer Robert Gentry held four books with one arm and picked through others novels with his free hand.  Gentry said he should be getting books form the library.  He reads about four a week and said his wife has scolded him for spending so much money and space on books.  But last Tuesday, Gentry just couldn't resist--and better to shop at A Reader's Corner than a chain he said.

"I just know I could spend the same amount here and get more books," he said.  "Buying them new is just too expensive."

Tim Fout said customers who frequent used bookstores are a different breed of book buyer.  They're usually avid readers looking for a good price and often are more savvy than other book buyers.  Some are looking for books off the beaten path, but many just browse until they find something interesting.

"They realize that most books that exist are out of print," he said.  "You aren't going to find them at a Borders or a Barnes and Noble..."

"We have enough books under the roof to accommodate eight to 10 times the customers we have," Tim Fout said.

November 3, 2003 edition

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