MINER - It isn't all the books, but their readers that have made the past 25 years so memorable, explained Joyce Hagy, who owns The Book Bug with her husband, Merlin.
"We have customers who have been coming to The Book Bug for 25 years," said Hagy. Yet, there are still others who are just discovering the new and used bookstore located at 201 State Highway AA.
When the Hagys purchased The Book Bug in April 1980 their first order of business was to move to a 450-square foot site into the then-Kingsway Mall.
They soon realized they needed more room and moved, then as the books added up they expanded. When the Mall's owners changed and it became the Riverbirch Mall, the store moved again locating along the Mall's main corridor.
That was in 1996. In 1997 disaster struck when a fire erupted in the Mall, heavily damaging their store. "They say a fire is a bookstore's worst nightmare," said Hagy. "We lost thousands of books but we saved thousands of books, too."
They also lost their home. For seven months the owners searched for just the right location finally settling in at the 2,000 square-foot one-story brick building on State Highway AA.
"We had to completely redo the building and each of the books we saved had to be cleaned. It was kind of wild here for a while," recalled Hagy with a smile.
But their customers were eagerly awaiting the reopening.
Hagy attributes the business' growth to being able to provide a unique service. Each with their own favorite authors and genres, she and her staff learn about the customers' interests and let them know about recent releases which the customers may enjoy reading.
Working with Hagy are Glenna Swilley, who has been a part of The Book Bug for 22 of its 25 years, and Valonna Fowler who has worked part-time at the store, primarily on weekends, for 11 years. Also employed part-time at the store are Michael Belk and Leslie Whitten.
Over the years, the staff agreed even the store's offerings have changed.
"The emphasis is shifting from romance to mystery," noted Fowler. "You still have the die-hard romance fans but more and more are going to mysteries or romantic suspense."
But some things have never changed, continued Hagy. "It has always been very enjoyable. I can't think of anything else I would rather do."
Also it has given her an opportunity to travel to book shows and meet authors, she pointed out. But best of all are the days spent in the store.
"We've made a lot of friends here in the past 25 years and I want to thank them," said Hagy. "I hope they will continue to come here. I'll be here."