Secondhand bookstore has tea, cozy atmosphere

Photo by Emma Barry

Time & Again Books and Tea is a cozy secondhand bookstore with the added bonus of selling delicious tea as well.

Located at 18 E. Utica Street, it is a bit off the main drag, but has continued to draw in satisfied customers since its opening in September 2000. Owner, manager and sole employee, Deborah Keppel Engelke, has always wanted to open a bookstore. She spent a decade saving money, and preparing for its opening. Including searching for the perfect location. The Utica Street location perfectly suits the store’s financial needs, as it has a small apartment above it that helps to supplement the rent.

Housing 17,000 books, the store is an intoxicating maze of shelves (reaching the ceiling in most places), and exudes a comforting atmosphere. The business hours are a bit erratic, as Engelke tends to have the store closed when she thinks people would not be showing up to shop.

Currently, the hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and often limited times on Wednesday. Most of the time she is around, but is hard at work on the inventory. On the weekends, Engelke and her husband are often traveling, picking up books at estate sales and other similar acquisition opportunities.

After first opening, Engelke spent the first two years advertising and getting established in her remote location. So far though, the most affective advertising has been word of mouth.

Selling books is not a very profitable profession, and it has never been easy. In 2009, when the Kindle was first released, there was a noticeable drop in customers. Lately, many have been finding their way back to her shop after becoming irritated with electronic reading.

Despite not making a lot of money, Engelke said she adores her job. She has found that having a job you genuinely enjoy makes up for a less than stellar income.

What sets Time & Again apart from other larger chain bookstores is the moment you step inside. The service is friendly and personable and quick service when searching for something specific. According to Engelke, bookstores should only be run by those who love books.

“All small businesses are unique and reflect the personality of whoever runs it,” Engelke said.

When it comes to this wonderfully staffed little bookstore it certainly seems to be accurate.