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Opening a bookstore is realization of a dream

Bob Greier, owner of Bob’s Bookstore, stands by some of the fiction and history bookshelves. (Salem News photo by Jaqui Norris)

SALEM — For avid readers searching for their next favorite book or someone who wants to spend an afternoon surrounded by books, Bob’s Bookstore in Salem is a great option.

With over 1,000 books ranging in genre from Chicken Soup for the Soul to Stephen King novels, the bookstore is an eclectic mix of all sorts of stories to suit any reader’s fancy.

The owner, Bob Greier, opened the store about six weeks ago in Courtyard Square, a small group of shops on East State Street. It’s been a lifelong dream for him to open a bookstore, wanting to “end my working years doing what I wanted to do.”

When asked if he thought he could be successful opening a bookstore in a post-COVID world, he replied, “Define successful. If I am able to spend my time with likeminded people, then I am successful.”

Greier graduated from Kent State University in 2005 with a degree in history, a subject he loves, which explains the large bookshelf dedicated to history and biographies. Prior to opening a bookstore, he worked in many different capacities, including machinery, lawn care, teaching, and working with youth. If he had to pick a niche for selling, it would be the classics. A whole bookshelf of the store is devoted the most famous fiction stories in history: The Phantom of The Opera, Dracula, A Tale of Two Cities, and many others. He keeps the shelves well-stocked and never fails to sell the popular works. As an author himself, he has his and other local authors’ works for sale as well.

For people who simply want to peruse the books or would like to sit down for a chat, the store has a few tables and a complimentary coffee stand that help add a cozy effect to the place. Greier is an avid conversationalist and loves the chance to get to know his customers. He looks forward to learning what people like to read, which helps him tailor his book inventory to what’s most popular right now. Currently, he’s stocking as many Colleen Hoover books as he can get his hands on, including It Ends With Us, one of her most popular books. “If she makes a grocery list, I’m buying it,” he joked, referring to the popularity of her writing. All the books are new or slightly used, and all are in excellent condition. He receives book recommendations all the time and works on obtaining as many as possible, although he’s cutting back on purchases until he sells some more to balance the tables a bit. Book donations are welcome, as long as the books are in good condition.

“My job is a ‘voice in the wilderness’, to tell them I’m here,” he says, referencing the relatively little-known area he opened in. The bookstore is located in Courtyard Square, which is a little out of the way even for people who live in Salem. When asked why he chose such an out-of-the-way place to open, he explained that he loved the nostalgia and ambience of the older building. The location helps make the bookstore feel more unique, rather than commercial like bigger bookstores.

Bob’s Bookstore is open 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. every day and is located just inside the back entrance to Coaches Burger Bar. For more information, call 330-429-3984.

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