Some say stepping into Book Worm Used Books is like taking a step back in time, when avid readers drove to the local used book store to load up on adventure, romance, science fiction and suspense.
The warm, dark paneling and rows of wooden shelves still welcome shoppers today, 10 years after the tiny shop opened, originally in a nook at the Riverview Flea Market.
It was a decade ago this month that sisters Jean Cummins and Pat Burriss decided to go for it. Cummins was retiring from nursing and Burriss, also a nurse, wasn’t far behind her.
“My sister was always a real big reader,” she said of Burriss, who is 74. “I started reading a little later in life. Mother and grandmother were readers. Opening a book store was something we talked about after we retired, having never been in business before.
“We weren’t sure what we wanted to do, but we saw that sign that said ‘vendors needed’ at the flea market,” said Cummins, who lives side by side with her sister on the Alafia River, a place they’ve lived since the 1950s. “It was almost empty. We rented one booth. And we added a lot more space down the road.
“When we first started out, we had one little booth and we worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We had a lot of fun doing that.”
When space opened at a nearby strip plaza at 7414 Commerce Street, a block off U.S. 301 in Riverview, they snatched it up and didn’t change a thing, including the dark-wood paneling.
Today, they still have some of the same customers they had in 2007, including avid reader Tom Parish, a regular visitor to the shop.
“They get five stars from me,” Parish said. “I’ve got probably a thousand books here at the house and my wife likes the flea market. I was wandering around with her one day and found their little book store. Now, I go to their shop a couple times a week. They are just two nice ladies. Well, all three of them, really.”
Their friend, Carol Glover, who crochets everything from doilies to baby clothes, sells her crafts from the Book Worm.
“Jean and Pat are just always so great,” Parish said. “I try to help them when I can to change a lightbulb or put up a sign. They always treat me good and find what I am looking for. I read a series of books and I share them with the girls. We help each other out.”
“We have a lot of stuff,” Cummins said. “It’s a far cry from what we had at the flea market. We have 900 square feet of space and we have four rooms, lots of paperbacks, romance, romantic suspense, mystery and suspense and in one room we have westerns and fantasy and sci fi in paperback and hardback. We also have a lot of paranormal paperbacks.”
Their biggest sellers, interestingly, are the books they sell to people between middle-school age and young adulthood.
Cummins said, “In our young adult section, we have a lot of the popular books, including Harry Potter and the Twilights, all those and a lot of the newer ones like The Maze Runner dystopian science-fiction novels. “We have five cabinets for middle school to young adult. They come in with their reading lists and we help them out.”
Yes, they have a trade policy involving store credit and yes, they have discounted books. Out front each day, they have paperbacks, five for $1, and it’s a big hit, Cummins said.
“We have plays and poetry, manga, the little Japanese books they read from back to front and a lot of children’s classics like Heidi, Treasure Island and Nancy Drew,” Cummins added.
Everyone from families, to the young adults and a lot of senior citizens who don’t use electronic books visit regularly. “We even have Kindle users who still come in for real books,” Cummins said.
“We usually think we’re going to slow down when all our senior citizens go back up North, but we’ve been very busy.” One day, we’ll have one person come in and other days it’s so packed you can hardly move.”
“I would highly recommend a visit to their shop especially if you want to save money,” Parish said. “It’s well worth the trip, especially if you are a reader, because they carry a little bit of everything.
The Book Worm Used Books is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at 7414 Commerce St. in Riverview. Their phone number is 813-443-0968.