Monday, March 19, 2018

Old Books Are Finding A New Home...

I'm a firm believer that every story can find it's way into a forever home. Not necessarily in MY home, but somewhere out in the great beyond, all those books I discover in the nooks and crannies of a used bookstore are like those puppies at the pound. Pages wagging with excitement, all those little titles look at me with those well-loved covers and seem to whisper, "Are YOU the one to take us home today?"

I'm addicted to the written word and I discovered a new booky playground in Knoxville.

After meeting Heather Hamilton (what a cool name), manager of Scruffy City Books, located at 2700 Hoitt Ave, I knew I wanted to interview her and find out more about this cool lady who seems to love books nearly as much as I do!

Me: Considering our struggling economy, what made you want to open up a second hand bookstore?


Heather: We're a small and flexible business with our hands in both e-commerce and retail.  We've seen e-books plateau and slightly decline while physical books have grown in popularity over the past year or so. People love books and are going to continue to buy books in whatever market conditions exist.  While retail,  in general, has had its struggles over the past few years, we believe that niche markets that offer real value to customers will always have a place at the table. Moreover, we believe that low prices and great customer service are strong points that we can provide no matter the economic conditions


Me: I noticed you have an expansive inventory in a lot of genres. Where do you go to find the books you stock?


Heather: Thank you, we are always working to expand and better organize them. Our sources for books are always changing, but have included recyclers, auctions, and books brought to the store for trade-in.  Usually, when we receive books in our warehouse they arrive in large pallets, which are then sorted through.  We organize them by genre and then bring them into the store to shelve.  Whatever we are unable to use, we recycle.

Me: Tell us a little bit about your store...i.e. pricing, genres covered, any specials my readers need to know about?


Heather: The great thing about our store is the affordability.  The majority of our kid's books are $1, and standard books are $3 with the exception of some popular titles which are priced as marked.  We also have a growing selection of CD's and audiobooks for $3 each.  Another popular deal are our bulk bins, where customers can fill a bag (which we provide) of kid's books from our bulk bins for $10.  We love to see how many books people are able to fit in the bags...I think the current record is 110 books.


We are also excited about the loyalty program we just launched, which allows customers to earn points for in store coupons.  Customers are able to enroll in this program at check out.


We have books of many different genres, but one of my personal favorites is the vintage section.  The books are just so pretty and unique, they really don't make them like that anymore.


Me: Do you have any upcoming events we need to know about?


Heather: Since we are such a new business, we do not have any events on our calendar yet, although we are floating several ideas around and I'm certain we will plan something special for our anniversary in August as well as Small Business Saturday in November. 

Me: If a customer is looking for something in particular you might not have in stock, are you able to locate it for them? How about shipping options if someone wanted to order direct and have the books sent to them?


Heather: While we don't control which particular new titles we recieve, we bring in and sort through thousands of books a week, so we are often able to locate titles for customers that we do not currently have in stock, although we cannot guarantee it.  Even if we are unable to find a book for a customer, we appreciate these requests as they help us have a better idea of how to stock our shelves and what titles readers are looking for.  

We don't have many requests to ship books, but the handful of times we have it is simply the price of the items plus standard shipping costs.

Me: What genres of books do you or your partner read? Favorite books?


Heather: Really, I enjoy reading a little bit of everything, but I probably read more science fiction and fantasy. Right now I'm reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde and it's been a lot of fun so far.  As far as favorite books, there are so many and with the list always growing, it's difficult to know where to begin. 


Me: What's the best way for new customers to reach you? Are you on social sites like Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest?


Heather: We are on Facebook and Instagram as Scruffy City Books, and we try to be as responsive as possible on each of those, whether it be via comment or direct message.

Me: What are your hours? What's something unique or special about you that my readers would find interesting?

Heather: Saturday 9:00-5:00 and Sunday 1:00-5:00. Scruffy City Books gives back to our community through our work with Title 1 schools via the Knoxville Dream Center.  This has included everything from donating books, donating a portion of our sales, and providing teachers with coupons for free books for their classrooms.

Me: Do you have any local author events scheduled in the future like book signings, reading to kids, mini workshops, etc?


Heather: Not at this time, but that is certainly something we would love to look into.  


There were so many lovely books to choose from, I was disappointed that I couldn't bring them all with me to a forever home. And I imagine, so were they...

International best selling author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt Taekwondo Instructor by day and a 'ninja' writer of children’s picture books, chapter books and young adult novels by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host and book reviewer for Harper Collins, She is also a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators and Children's Book Insider. Donna is a lover of dark chocolate, time at the beach, and well written stories.


  1. You found another playground for us. Yay.

    1. Yeah, Janet, you really think I'm gonna leave any books for YOU? ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

  2. I bought about ten on my visit there last year. Need to go back.

    1. Hi Shannon! I went there today and loaded up on books. I have been going to McKays for years, but Scruffy City may be my new "go to" place...;=)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!