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Posted September 16, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Turning a page: Store owner draws on love of reading for business

By Jessica Wiant -- jwiant@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- From bringing in authors and food demonstrations, to simply offering a place to buy new bestsellers in Front Royal, Main Street Book Co. is looking to fill more than one niche on the street from which it takes its name.

Jonathan Yulish, who came to the Northern Shenandoah Valley from Indiana, opened up the shop in April.

He found the area as a result of a friendship with former Councilman Brett Hrbek -- and when looking for business ideas, books seemed a natural fit.

"I love books. I'm a lifelong learner," Yulish said.

Yulish said the area did offer some used book stores, but no place for new books.

He doesn't want to duplicate what other businesses are doing, he explained, but does want to offer items not previously available without leaving Front Royal.

Bestsellers are among them, along with a Civil War section, "The South" section and other books he selects.

"I like to think that we ... also carry books you won't find other places," he said.

He takes special orders, too.

Yulish accepts like-new used books for store credit, and the used books are mixed in with the new.

There are children's and young adult sections in the store, along with other staples.

A display of Virginia products includes much more than books, however. The goal is to be not just a bookstore, but a Virginia store as well, he explained.

Virginia chutney, preserves and coffee are available, alongside books by local authors. Local jewelry, soap, crafts and artwork are also available.

"I'm real proud of the local art I have," Yulish said.

The store offers greeting cards, children's puzzles and art supplies, Virginia souvenirs and home school resources. A display of NPR CDs and notecards are available on the counter in the back.

Yulish also plans to carry magazines and some comic books in the future.

Miche brand bags and purses are also in stock at the shop, making it, he said, the only Shenandoah Valley retailer where they are available.

"People seek them out," he said.

People have also been happy to have a bookstore on Main Street in general, according to Yulish.

So far the store has offered readings and signings by popular local authors Regina Doman, John Lamb and Ellen Crosby and featured photography exhibits.

As fall gets into full swing and people look for more indoor events, Yulish is aiming for two local events a month, a reading and some type of food demonstration.

His next event will be during the Front Royal Festival of Leaves in October.

With the popularity of e-readers on the rise, Yulish isn't worried too much about the competition.
"There are people who always want to hold a book in their hand," he said.

People also love to walk around and browse in a book store.

"That's something you can't do with e-books," he said.

Of course, Yulish is also taking an "if you can't beat them, join them" approach to the subject. Once his website is finished, he plans to sell e-books online.

Main Street Book Co. is at 120 E. Main St.. in Front Royal and is open seven days a week. Hours are Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; Monday-Wednesday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, call the store at 631-7223. The store's website, www.mainstreetbookco.com, will be up and running soon.

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