David O’Coin has heard the naysayers who claim a brick and mortar book store cannot survive in this digital age.
After all, the struggles by mom and pop businesses and chain stores alike closing physical locations because of online ordering and downloading e-books is constantly in the news.
“Fifteen years ago we had a guy who said we could never stay in business,” O’Coin recalls. He proved that gentleman wrong by successfully operating a book store in Melbourne, Florida all these years. Now, to be closer to his daughter in Richmond Hill, O’Coin and his wife Valerie have moved here and look to repeat their business success.
On March 1, the two opened The Book Store on the Hill, at 2481 Ford Avenue in the Ways Station shopping center, and if feedback from his customers are an indication, people of all ages are longing for a return to the past where they can see and touch something before they buy.
Stephen Beasley is 23 and identifies himself as “a technology person,” yet he has already become somewhat of a regular in O’Coin’s store. “I love to look around and the more (inventory) I see come in, the more I like,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t like reading e-books because I can’t feel the turn of pages.”
Other customers in the store that day seemed to appreciate how they could walk in, tell O’Coin what they were searching for, and get a quick answer. Comments on the store’s Facebook page echo that thought, saying the owner is extremely helpful and customer-service oriented.
“We like dealing with people,” O’Coin said. Customer service, low pricing and friendliness are the three staples of his business model.
“The best thing about our store is our pricing,” he said, noting that about 90 percent of books are priced at $3.25 or less. Many are used, and the plan is to eventually offer a trade-in program.
O’Coin also looks to take advantage of the area’s demographics, stocking hard to find military books and models. An entire shelf is dedicated to various wars, including large selections of Civil War and World War II items.
Noting that his daughter home schools her children, O’Coin maintains a large collection of home school materials as well.
The owners have no intention to offer online ordering. “We want people to come in and see the condition (of the books),” he said. “We don’t sell junk.”