“I’ve been saving my pennies over the last few years. Always wanted to have my own place,” Van Patten said. “The time was right. I saw the economy as an opportunity — rents are low right now. I think there are a lot of opportunities out there,
especially for downtown storefronts.”
“We cater to the English majors of the world,” Van Patten said, chuckling. Van Patten believes he competes with larger chain bookstores by offering greater depth in fewer categories.
“I actually have more variety in my niche sections. I have every book ever written about Massillon,” he said. “I have multiple cutting-edge artists whose books you would not find in Borders because they stick with the mainstream titles.”
He’s loaded with award winners. “I don’t have the latest best-sellers, but I have every Hugo award winner for the last 20 years,” he said. “I have an emphasis on quality, and that goes for the young adult section too — Caldecott, Newbery winners.”
What has been the best part of owning his own bookstore? The luxury of time to chat with customers.
“When I worked at Borders, I spent the majority of my time just finding things for people,” he said. “Now I can recommend — that’s what I do all day. I can spend 20 minutes finding out what they like, maybe show them some (book) they never would have known about.”
Owner: Fred Van Patten
Hours: Permanently Closed
It’s a simple directive. Every month, make a point of visiting at least three independently owned businesses, for instance, a restaurant, jewelry shop, furniture store or ice cream stand. Spend a total of $50 among them.
The result? For every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.
In the stories that follow, you’ll meet six local business owners who have joined The 3/50 Project. For a list of participating businesses in Ohio, visit www.the350project.net and click on “Our Supporters.”