Close

Finding a new home

Bookstore owner, theatre troupe director optimistic about new location


Looking Glass Books may be moving to a smaller location at 1304 Adams Ave., but owner Grant Turner thinks the size will be an advantage.

For one, he finally has an excuse to update the store’s selection.

“That was something that probably needed to happen for a long time, anyway,” he said.

Turner, who co-owns the bookstore with his wife, Nicole, said he purged the store of items that hadn’t been touched in more than two decades.

There was a bookstore in La Grande before Looking Glass Books that used to stamp its books, Turner said. The fact those stamped books were still on his shelves was proof nobody wanted to buy them, and it was time to get rid of them.

Turner said he is also doing away with outdated content.

“Any self-help books from the ’70s or earlier are probably no longer very useful,” he said. “The nonfiction section, which took up about half of the old space, is now only eight shelves.”

He does want to expand his current
collection with newer items, though.

To help pare down the number of books, Turner said he’s been selling many at “two bucks a pop,” and he plans to donate the rest. What was once an inventory of about 20,000 books will now be closer to 12,000. Looking Glass Books will still maintain enough overstock to fill the shelves as items are sold.

Other updates include trading in the
old cash register for an iPad mini and changing the décor.

When Turner and his wife bought the business, the purchase included the shelves and the existing decorations.

“It was someone else’s design,” Turner said. “It wasn’t mine.”

In his mind, a bookstore’s decorations should be primarily the books themselves.

“I don’t see a need to worry about the fashion here, I just want to jam in as many books as I can,” he said.

In addition to the updates, Turner said he is optimistic about the smaller shop for one very practical reason.

“The overhead will cost less,” he said. “It’ll be cheaper to clean, cheaper to heat, the rent itself is cheaper.”

Amidst all the change, however, a few things will continue as they were.

“I’ll still make recommendations, I’ll still honor store credit and gift certificates and I’ll still order (customers’) requests,” Turner said.

An area for those who want to sit and read will also remain.

“That’s what a bookstore is, to me: an extension of your family room,” Turner said.

There’s also a bench right outside the store, which he said perfect for reading on warm days.

Moreover, Looking Glass Books will continue to be the home of the La Grande Shakespeare Company.

“Every small business needs to find a differentiator, something that sets them apart,” he said. “This is ours.”

In the back of the shop, there is a performance area for the theatre troupe.

“It’s smaller than play spaces you may be used to, but it’s great for us,” Turner said. “It only has 20 seats, so I expect we’ll have a full house most nights.”

Turner hopes people who come for the theatre productions will also take note of the book selection, and people who come for the books become interested in the performance space.

Based on his experiences at the current location, 1118 Adams Ave., Turner believes the two elements will benefit each other.

“We had two of the bookstore’s busiest months once we put in that theatre,” he said.

The new space “fortuitously” includes a storage area that will double as a dressing and makeup room, as well as an off-stage area for actors to hide during shows.

To make matters better, Turner’s rows of theatre seats fit perfectly along the walls of the stage area.

“I thought, ‘It must be destiny,’” he said.

Turner said establishing a Wi-Fi connection is one of the last things he needs to do before he opens the doors. Then, he’ll have a soft opening as soon as possible while still selling books at reduced rates at the current location. The grand opening will be June 1, and the Shakespeare Company’s first performance in the new venue will be June 2.

“I don’t see a need to worry about the fashion here, I just want to jam in as many books as I can,” he said.

In addition to the updates, Turner said he is optimistic about the smaller shop for one very practical reason.

“The overhead will cost less,” he said. “It’ll be cheaper to clean (and) heat. The rent itself is cheaper.”

Amidst all the change, however, a few things will continue as they were.

“I’ll still make recommendations, I’ll still honor store credit and gift certificates and I’ll still order (customers’) requests,” Turner said.

An area for those who want to sit and read will also remain.

“That’s what a bookstore is to me: an extension of your family room,” Turner said.

There’s also a bench right outside the store, which he said is perfect for reading on warm days.

Moreover, Looking Glass Books will continue to be the home of the La Grande Shakespeare Company.

“Every small business needs to find a differentiator — something that sets them apart,” he said. “This is ours.”

In the back of the shop, there is a performance area for the theatre troupe.

“It’s smaller than play spaces you may be used to, but it’s great for us,” Turner said. “It only has 20 seats, so I expect we’ll have a full house most nights.”

Turner hopes people who come for the theatre productions will also take note of the book selection, and people who come for the books become interested in the performance space.

Based on his experiences at the current location, 1118 Adams Ave., Turner believes the two elements will benefit each other.

“We had two of the bookstore’s busiest months once we put in that theatre,” he said.

The new space “fortuitously” includes a storage area that will double as a dressing and makeup room, as well as an off-stage area for actors to hide during shows.

To make matters better, Turner’s rows of theatre seats fit perfectly along the walls of the stage area.

“I thought, ‘It must be destiny,’” he said.

Turner said establishing a Wi-Fi connection is one of the last things he needs to do before he opens the doors. Then, he’ll have a soft opening as soon as possible while still selling books at reduced rates at the current location. The grand opening will be June 1, and the Shakespeare Company’s first performance in the new venue will be June 2.