Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Corner-Stone Bookshop still thriving

By Yessenia Reynoso

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – You open the door and it hits you, the smell of old books and wood

shelves. You scan the room and towers of books from floor to ceiling fill your eyes. The floor

creaks as you take a step, and the men at the counter flash you a welcoming smile, you’ve

arrived at Corner-Stone Bookshop.

For 41 years, Corner-Stone Bookshop has occupied the corner of Cornelia and Margaret

St., a feat that current owner, Art Graves, acknowledges. “It’s got a history,” Graves said, “It’s a

comfortable place.”

Graves purchased the bookshop from its original owner Nancy Duniho back in 2011. “I

was working as a chemist, and I ended up getting laid off,” Graves said, “the owner was trying to

sell the business, and I ended up buying it.”

Despite the change in ownership, much remains the same. “We moved some books

around, but for the most part everything is the same,” Graves said.

Corner-Stone Bookshop has amassed great popularity among community members, and

even visitors from abroad. “We get tons of Canadian customers,” Vince Higgins, bookshop

employee, said.

Higgins, who has been an employee at Corner-Stone for 15 years, has witnessed first-

hand the success of the bookshop and has interacted with customers almost every day. “The

biggest reward is when I help someone find a book,” Higgins said, “and if we don’t have the

book here, we’ll find it for you.”

This attention to customer service is one of the reasons that community member Mandi

Spofford enjoys visiting the bookshop. “I appreciate the interactions that I have with everyone at

the shop. It’s conversational, it’s lively, you rarely find that in bookshops,” Spofford said.

The conversational atmosphere that Spofford refers to is a big staple at Corner-Stone, one

that Graves has made sure to preserve. “People like that we ask their name,” Graves said.

“There’s not many bookstores like this in this area, actually there isn’t any,” Higgins said

when asked about what has helped the business remain open for 41 years.

“This is the secret to the success of this place, having great used books,” Higgins said,

and in an era where people can find their books online or in their phones, there must be a reason

that customers keep coming back.

The selection, the space, and the reasonable prices are three reasons that Graves believes

customers continue to return to Corner-Stone every day. “Having three floors helps,” Graves

said, “there’s tons of books and customers can just wander around, and we’re a non-judgmental


Another reason why community members visit the bookshop is its community outreach.

“They have had book signing events in the past, which allows for extra interaction between

community members,” SUNY Plattsburgh student Chelsea Reid said. “The bookshop and the

community are one in the same; that’s authentic,” Reid said.

Corner-Stone has managed to operate for 41 years, and the owner, employees, and

customers understand how special that is in the town of Plattsburgh.

“I call this bookshop a port in the storm,” Higgins said. “People come in sometimes in a

bad mood and leave with a smile. This place’s got heart and soul.”

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