Monday, October 15, 2012

When the estate sale IS a book store

For the past few years, as Greensboro revitalized its downtown into a thriving nightlife area, this sad little book store sat in the midst of it, perpetually closed. I would peek through the glass, see worthless digests in the display, and shake my head. No hours on the door, no "coming soon," no answers for curious pedestrians.

This weekend, I finally found out why.

Al and Cordelia Faber opened The Book Trader in 1980. Both veterans, Al was active in the downtown revitalization movement. The couple lived in an apartment above their used and rare books.

Al passed away in 2007 and Cordelia passed earlier this year. Their children are selling the property (now worth more than 10 times the 1978 purchase price) and called in an estate sale company to clear it out. Everything must go! from shelving to kitchen wares, tools to typewriters.

I arrived early, pleased to find many more and better books than I had seen in that gloomy window. After the chilly morning walk, I shed layers and gloves as I went through the antiquarian books.

When I spotted old ledger books on the bottom shelf, I sat on the floor and went through each one. They were account books for a store and a furniture company, with lists of local names and payments made. I selected two that had older dates and provenance markings.
While none of the household items on the third floor tempted me, the apartment was impressive. Stairs in the back led to three rooms and two baths, then a large studio area over the front of the store, with a little 70s-style kitchen on the right.  A photo just doesn't quite capture the coolness — all that wood and wide windows and light, speaking dreams of living above your own bookshop.

Back downstairs in the books, I found the North Carolina section and fell over the edge — that line between bookseller and bibliophile, where I start picking up anything that looks good and start forgetting about how much I can sell it for. Time to check out, even though I hadn't looked at everything.

I wasn't too bad. Aside from the ledgers, my finds included an 1884 Dickens, 1904 Naval ships, 1899 biographies of authors, a Buffalo Bill bio by Zane Grey, a 1930 biography of Mata Hari with photos (added to the "to read" pile), and a scrapbook (more about that later).

If you want to know more about individual books or subscribe to Tannery Books' newsletter, e-mail me at I will never sell or give away your e-mail address.


Veronica Roth said...

Wow Elizabeth, what a treasure you've found. My first reaction was that I want to know everything about all the books you saved and am immediately subscribing to your news letter. I love, LOVE old books and canm't stop buying them. I especially love books with any kind of provenance, especially if they have little sentimental writings in them. I wish I could have been there with you. :)

kranthi P said...
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Cheri McCullough said...

Hey Beth!

Is the Estate Sale still going on? I just love old books, journals, diaries, sheet music, and photo albums. I have two photo albums, one from the 1910's, and the other from the 1920's. Just love the tin type photos, postcards, victorian calling cards, and greeting cards. I have several old books that I need to get rid of, could I come by there and give them to you? Let me know about the books and the estate sale. Would love to rummage through the stuff.....

Elizabeth Saunders said...

Hi, Veronica! You would have enjoyed it. So I'm not the only one with this addiction? :-)

Elizabeth Saunders said...

Hey, Cheri! I think it was over Sunday, but I don't know what happens if they don't sell everything. Past Perfect Estate Services, phone: (336) 601-4376.

The scrapbook will be in tomorrow's post.

I'd love for you to visit! Right now the shop's open Monday and Friday 11-7, Thursday 11-6.

Lara Britt said...

Old books are naturally vanilla scented...a natural selection attract female humans to nurture, tend and worship them. Scientific fact. :)

Cheri McCullough said...

Thanks Beth for letting me know!

Elizabeth Saunders said...

Oh, Lara, that's funny! But males do come into the bookshop and sniff books, too.