CANTON Parishvilles BirchBark Bookshop has been a St. Lawrence County institution since 1990, but a new shop in Canton and the creation of an online business model signal a new chapter for the booksellers.
BirchBark will open a location inside the North Country Neighbors Too flea market at Midtown Plaza off Miner Street today.
The last year has been filled with ups and downs for owner Timothy Strong.
From 2007 until last July, BirchBark had two locations, one in Parishville and a smaller store in Potsdam. Then a windstorm tore the roof off the Potsdam store at 1 Maple St., and about 3,000 books were lost to the rain.
After the storm, the store moved to Canton, opening inside Fashion Kraze on Route 11. The new location had plenty of space, but the roof leaked. Mr. Strong decided to move out in March.
Now he is returning to Canton, driving truckloads of books from his Parishville store to sell in the Miner Street flea market.
This place is lovely. I think they do a wonderful job, he said.
He will keep his focus on the Parishville and Canton stores, he said. BirchBark probably will not return to the Maple Street location in Potsdam.
We are still hard at work, said Maureen Triolo, who has worked with Mr. Strong at BirchBark for the last three years.
Ms. Triolo and Mr. Strong have spent the last week organizing and shelving books to prepare for todays grand opening at 1 p.m.
One corner of the store has been set aside for BirchBark. Although there is less space than at Fashion Kraze, Mr. Strong said, he still plans to stock about 15,000 books at the Canton location.
While settling into the new physical space, Mr. Strong has spent the last few months exploring a whole new frontier: the world of online bookselling.
While many websites have been selling books for years, Mr. Strong admitted he has long ignored the Internet.
I dont know much about computers, he said.
He hired Hilary M. Oak, former director of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council, to help the store develop an online presence.
St. Lawrence County does not have a lot of book collectors, according to Mr. Strong. While there always is a market for cheap used books, the more valuable collectibles are tough to sell in-store.
We dont sell that many $50 books, or $75 books or $100 books, he said.
Now buyers can find BirchBark books on sites such as eBay, Amazon.com and biblio.com, an online store created specifically for booksellers.
Sales have been slow but steady so far. BirchBarks first online sale was a two-pack of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle in March.
The books were bound in the early 1900s by famous cover designer Margaret N. Armstrong and sold for $85 apiece.
Its one of those things a lot of people here wouldnt know, Mr. Strong said.