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Used Books: Recycling For The Mind

Ann Simpson’s store, Second Look Books, looks more like a branch library than a shop for used reading material.

Her business in the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center is packed with almost 100,000 volumes, most of which sell at half their original price.

“I tell people we are in the recycling business,” said Simpson.

She has rows and rows of paperbacks and hardbacks upstairs. She leases the basement, which is filling up with books, too.

There are novels, travel books, self-help books, diet and exercise books, biographies, true-crime tomes and classics. Non-fiction titles are about 55 percent of the total.

Simpson said for people on a tight budget used books make great gifts.

Her computer software program can search for any title. If she doesn’t have the book, she will launch a search to find hard-to-locate volumes.

Customers can sell their old books to her. She gives credits for book purchases instead of cash.

“Every day you are learning something,” Simpson said of the business.

A former computer programmer and instructor, Simpson started the business in the corner of a laundromat in 1982.

She moved to her present location in 1988 and has been expanding ever since. She now has 11 employees.

Her books appeal to a broad range of people, she said, from young customers looking for bargains to retirees on budgets.

She said her customers are relatively honest. The business, at 2829 E. 29th, gets only a few bad checks from purchases, and shoplifting is minimal.

Second Look Books also is one of the few local businesses that collects and sells old magazines, she said.

Among her acquisitions is a growing number of classroom textbooks for parents who homeschool their youngsters.

Simpson prides herself on helping customers get what they want.

Neighbor helping neighbor

The owners of The Ultimate Bagel on the South Hill have found the ultimate location to do business.

They are right next to Starbuck’s Coffee at 2525 E. 29th.

The co-location of the Spokane-owned bagel company and the country’s leading purveyor of gourmet coffee didn’t happen by accident.

The Ultimate Bagel, which started in business four years ago, has opened shops next to two other Starbuck’s outlets in Spokane.

The South Hill bagel shop opened earlier this year.

The other Starbuck’s-bagel tandems are on North Hamilton in the Gonzaga University district and at Wandermere Mall.

“They kind of go hand-in-hand,” said Christi Chapman, co-owner of The Ultimate Bagel on the South Side. “They make good coffee. We make good bagels.”

“We have customers in common,” she said.

The Ultimate Bagel has a fourth location downtown, but that one is unattached to Starbuck’s.

In fact, Starbuck’s is accustomed to having bagel sellers as neighbors, said Cheri Libby, spokeswoman for Starbuck’s.

Noah’s Bagels, which operates on the West Coast, has opened stores next to Starbuck’s at several sites in Seattle and California.

In a lot of ways, the gourmet coffee trend parallels growth in the specialty bagel business. Both types of businesses have exploded with rapid growth in recent years, and both attract loyal followings.

Starbuck’s likes the bagel business so much that it has purchased stock in Noah’s Bagels, Libby said.

Even though Starbuck’s sells pastries at its shops, Starbuck’s management welcomes its neighbors as good additions to the retail climate around it, not as competitors, Libby said.

“I think it is good for both of us,” Libby said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo