While the saying “it takes a village” was popularized some years ago, but the residents of Powder Springs, Georgia believe the refrain should be “it takes a book store.” One book store in particular: The Book Worm.
For over a decade Susan Smelser’s independent book store has occupied a prominent spot in the heart of our community. It’s a popular place, drawing locals and visitors alike, some from as far away as Cumming, Newnan, and Conyers.
Take one step inside and you’ll know why. Books line the floor-to-ceiling shelves on every wall and here and there a cozy overstuffed chair waits for anyone who wants to linger. “But there’s a method to the madness,” Susan says. She and a tireless staff keep everything where it should be, whether it’s new or old, a novel or nonfiction, a children’s book, a book of true crime, science fiction, inspiration, or mystery. And if by chance the Book Worm doesn’t have exactly what you are looking for among its 30,000 titles, Susan will find it for you.
Finding long sought books for customers has been Susan’s trademark. That, along with her dedication to serving her customers. It’s not just lip service. Everyone gives the store high marks for friendliness and helpfulness.
In 2005, Susan’s online book business had outgrown her garage. She drew on her years of retail business experience to create a solid business plan and then bought the building housing the former Main Street Antiques at 4451 Marietta Street. Soon, she discovered she had a knack for “hand selling” books and making people happy and the business turned a profit in its first quarter of operation.
Ten years later, she still treasures the squeals of delight when a young reader visits the store for the first time, or seeing the smile on the face of a customer finding a favorite, rare, or out-of-print book. And then, there’s the smile she can’t see, on the face of a soldier far from home who just received one of the many books the store donated.
Even as society embraced ebooks and ereaders and some traditional “big box” book stores across the country closed, the Book Worm thrived. “What’s more,” Susan says, citing statistics from a recent industry conference, “there’s good news. Independent book stores like the Book Worm are making a comeback.” People are flocking to these inviting nooks where they find friendly faces and people who share their love of reading.
To this happy story, however, we add a footnote. After Susan and her husband Steven together lost a total of 280 pounds, she is embarking on a new direction. She’s now working as a health coach, where she says she’ll be able to make an even bigger difference in changing people’s lives.
It’s a calling she can’t refuse, but it’s a full time job.
Eventually, Susan decided to put the Book Worm’s charming building up for sale. While the realtor works to sell the building, Susan is searches for another book lover who wants to continue the book business. When asked what type of person she’s looking for Susan says, “Above all, someone who has their heart in the community. Merchants in Powder Springs are a close-knit group. We’re all just two doors down.” She also hopes that whoever takes on the Book Worm will continue to help customers track what they’ve read, offer credit for book trade-ins, and donate books to community groups.
While we wish Susan well in her new endeavors, we suspect she’ll be spotted from time reading a book or two in the comfy red chair in the back room.
To inquire about purchasing the building contact Delain Climmons at 770-891-5403. For information about The Book Worm Bookstore, contact Susan Smelser at 770-605-7323. thebookwormonline.com
Rona Simmons lives and works in Atlanta. Her freelance projects include biographies and articles for various publication. She is also the author of a short story collection, and the novels The Quiet Room and Postcards from Wonderland, Deeds Publishing.