Let the Books begin: McHuston Booksellers on Main.

Let the work finally begin.

Not that there hasn’t been a lot of that going on already, at the site of the former Francy Law Firm on Main Street. It’s just that the work from this point forward is a different kind.

There won’t be professional carpenters, contractors, plumbers, and HVAC workers. Just me. And the volunteers. And there aren’t many of those.

But that’s okay.

It’s been a labor of love all along, running the bookstore in Broken Arrow. The book industry is changing almost every day, what with electronic readers, authors posting chapters in their online blogs, store closings, and a general decline in reading habits. There are still plenty of things being read, but a lot of the reading is online: blogs, websites, tweets, news aggregators, and Facebook updates.

That piece of paper, the final page of a small stack of numbered papers, has my signature on it. The lease is signed, and the official okay to begin moving items into the new location has been given, as of Tuesday, March 12, 2012.

That’s just shy of five months since receiving the official heave-ho notice from the previous landlord, who declined to provide a month-to-month rental arrangement to allow the bookstore to remain in operation until the new location was completed.

No hard feelings.

It just amounts to more work, moving for a second time those items carried into storage five months ago. And that work begins Tuesday.

Well, in all honesty – it could. Due to the timing, it won’t really get started until Wednesday to avoid a scheduling conflict – of all things.

Then, the shelves may be hauled out of the church where they’ve been stashed, to be reconstructed in the new location.

Books to follow that – but, all things in due time.

Let’s get the shelves rebuilt first. In the meantime, I snapped a couple of pictures of the exterior on my way back from signing the lease, showing the brick front without awning, and the trusty old Firebird parked in front. Click for a bigger view.

PS. The old Pontiac doesn’t look too bad for 16 years on the road, eh?

An update with photo.

I’ve run into more people in the past few days than I have in the past four months – asking about the bookstore and its current status. It’s a pleasure being asked, and I only wish that I could run into every first-time, occasional, or regular customer to give a personal update. I know there are some folks who likely believe the store folded up the tent. Not true!

We’ve moved into March and are about a week out from St. Paddy’s Day, another calendar date I had hoped would find McHuston Booksellers ready-stocked and open for business. I’m doubtful that date can be met, as the occupancy of the new building has not been green-lighted.

From the photo, taken from the sidewalk and looking in through the front windows, you can see that the building has every appearance of completion, looking in through the front windows. There are a couple of things that are apparent, such as the front awning, which has seen the frame installed, but not the canvas.

The interior is a beautiful thing to see – high-ceilinged, suspended light fixtures, wood centerline columns with counter-height desks. The tile floor has the appearance of wooden planks, but will be so much easier to care for.

As noted in an earlier post, shelves have been acquired from a now-closed Tulsa bookstore that originated at the Novel Idea location of so many years ago. Those, and another set that came from a Barnes & Nobel location, are currently hiding in my sister’s church until the official go-ahead is signaled (with immense thanks to her and her pastor).

Books are still being acquired, although – without immediately shelving on which to house them – the purchases are quite a bit more selective. It will not be too long now before the shelves can be reassembled and the books restored.

To answer the question, though – I can’t say with any assuredness the exact date. The building looks finished to me, but then, I’m no contractor and I don’t know the process. Inspections and such are out of the control of everyone except the inspector. I hope they’ll be wrapped up in the next week or so and permission to move in will be granted.

In the meantime, behind the scenes work continues!

Marching to an update: March 2 Progress

There is a scent of caramel in the air, deliciously entwined with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. My daughter and I are sampling coffee grinds in an effort to winnow down the premier offerings when the stainless steel machine has its inaugural service at the newly reopened location of the bookstore.

Admittedly, I’m not a regular coffee drinker and certainly no aficionado. That’s why I’m depending on the advice of others to help select some delicious blends. I am surprised, though. My recollection of coffee in the morning has no memory of caramel. Maybe if these sorts of coffee grinds had been around when I was younger, I’d be a cup o’Joe guy instead of a Mountain Dew-er.

I actually took a second cup of this Amazonian Caramel. It is that good, straight from the pot.

The electrical outlets are ready to accommodate the coffeemaker in the new bookstore kitchen, receptacles lined along the wall, each glowing in the dark with a tiny green light. Flip on the switch and the brand-new stainless steel sink reflects the bright overhead lighting. Beautiful tile flooring is underfoot. It’s not a big area, but perfectly suited for its intent.

To my eyes, the space is nearing readiness.

There are glowing red exit signs over the doorways, just-installed. The air is dusted with newness and wood stain oils, fresh paint and grout. Bathrooms now feature basin sinks and wall mirrors over the vanities. For those interested, the mop basin is plumbed and ready to handle the janitorial cleanups.

Outside, glass is now thermal pane. The address is clearly marked in the sash over the front door: 122. Overhead, the frame for the canopy awning has been restored and is ready to accept the canvas. The bricks have been painted to match the facades of the adjoining buildings.

Waiting to be installed are just-acquired fixtures from Book Alley in Tulsa, whose owner is moving to Houston. She shut the store for good on Tuesday. Wednesday, shelving was hauled out in preparation for installation in the new McHuston Booksellers location. I’m tickled to be able to preserve a bit of the area’s literary history: six large wooden units once handled the inventory at Novel Idea, one of the last large independent bookstores in Tulsa that featured strictly new books. They faced stiff competition when Barnes and Noble opened just a couple of miles away across from Woodland Hills Mall. Ironically, those shelves will sit next to retired Barnes and Noble shelving also acquired from Book Alley.

There is a lot of work ahead, to get everything in readiness, and we’re all anxious to get started!