I had to see it one last time, even though I’d only been there maybe three times over ten years. I heard that the Half Price Books in Seattle’s University District would be closing on April 9th 2017, so I went to pay respects in this introductory post of Thrifting Adventures. We’ll reminisce, briefly cover what I got, and dig into some reasons why we should still support local bookstores even if they’re not practical.
My Limited Reminiscing
A college buddy told me about this location and introduced me to the idea of dumpster diving for books. Others salvage scrap and videogames. There’s a moral gray area for both the company throwing out potentially useable items and the people potentially stealing company property. The building itself needed renovation, from the rain-beaten awning and the water-damaged bookshelves to the creaky second story. Still, it had character.
Acquiring More Objects
On the Shortness of Life by Seneca recently piqued my interest. Even if it wasn’t there, the casual hunt would lead me to philosophy books and other topics of interest. Wasn’t there. Didn’t expect it since most everything valuable had already sold. I did get these books for 75% off. You know what? I didn’t find it at another location that was not going out of business. Nor from a competitor! It was at the library.
Supporting Local Bookstores
With the digitization of our society, and in particular our hobbies, there isn’t a need to physically own your books, music, or movies anymore to enjoy them. I can freely read Seneca’s essay online or on my phone to recreate the feeling of reading a book. I, along with probably most of the customers at this location, enjoy the feeling of having a book readily available. A book is dependable and won’t crash.
Yet bookstores and other hobby stores just aren’t practical. If you want something reliably now, just order it online and have it delivered. If you need something right now, check a store’s online inventory and buy it in person. While I wouldn’t bet that bookstores will only be around for another generation, there are less bookstores now than ever, and the official statement is “the customer traffic hasn’t been high enough to allow us to stay.”
Why should we support these stores anymore?
Shouldn’t we let evolution take its course?
Part of it’s sharing the hobby. When I go to a music shop, I’ll ask about “rare Nirvana stuff” to strike up conversation and if they have anything to add to my collection. Maybe I’ll ask for recommendations that could lead down more evocative paths than system generated ones. Specialty stores will usually have better selections and discounts than bigger retail stores. It’s also fun just to get out of your bubble, walk around, and see what’s out there.
Otherwise, if we take out the sentimentality, rather than look to the past longingly, we should look to the future in certain awe, then embrace the uncertainties that arrive during our short lives.