ADDRESS: 215 SW 4th St, Corvallis, OR
OWNER: Bob Baird
YEARS IN BUSINESS: The Corvallis store opened in 1983, 29 years ago. Ten years earlier, the first Book Bin opened in Albany, Oregon.
WHAT THEY SELL: The Book Bin offers everything for lovers of new and old books, including calendars, cards, legal forms, puzzles, CDs and DVDs, and reading accessories. They specialize in sale books, but you can also find discontinued gems.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Trees are spared when books are re-used, and the Book Bin boasts a huge inventory. You may also find your guilty-pleasure magazine when you stop in to support this local, family business.
The Book Bin is a community hang-out and a marketplace for used and new books. The sections for children and literature are particularly strong, but every section contains a deep and wide variety for fans of any genre. The Book Bin team cultivates a community lounge atmosphere, and it smells like a book store should smell. Linger in a chair and thumb through some science fiction, biographies, or guides, and see why the Book Bin is so addictive.
Owner Bob Baird got involved with the Book Bin in 1983. “The owner of the Albany store had seen me around, browsing books, and he approached me at a garage sale to see if I was interested in the book business.” Baird knew he wanted to run a business with his family, and he jumped at the chance to open a Book Bin in Corvallis. “Later on, we opened another store in Salem. We take pride in offering a huge selection, across the board.”
Bob, what’s new at the Book Bin? For over a decade we have offered some new books in addition to used books, but that has really expanded recently. When Borders left town, we made a major commitment to meet local demand for new books. Now that’s a large part of our business. We’re also selling books online, about 20% of sales these days.
Has your business been impacted by the rise of e-books and e-readers? Not too bad. E-book sales plateaued last year, and it seems like there will always be demand for paper books. Many people tell me that e-books don’t smell or feel right, or it’s not as satisfying to click, rather than flip the pages. Truth is, each kind of book has its place.
How do local independents impact our community? It’s huge! They keep dollars in the community and hire local people. That’s job creation. In the past ten years, Corvallis has seen big companies coming to town. It’s a miracle so many local, independent retailers have survived. Their dedication keeps them growing, adapting, and supporting one another through the rough patches.
How many people do you employ? Altogether, 37 people work at the Book Bin, including five members of the Baird family. Seven jobs have been added in the last year.
Are there other ways you contribute to the community? We participated in the formation of the Corvallis Independent Business Alliance (CIBA), and I served as its President in the past. We work closely with community members, and provide support when we can. To publicize local events, fund-raisers, and organizations, we have occasionally let folks use one of our downtown window display cases for 1-2 weeks at a time.
What has your business done to model sustainability? Our whole business model is based on re-using books and other media, which have a really long shelf-life. Without a community marketplace for used books, it’s much harder to find a gem. The books you find at yard sales are unpredictable and random. Having a fixed location makes it so much easier for book lovers to find their next favorite used book.
(Interview and article by Kaci Buhl – October 7, 2012)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).