Thursday, January 18, 2018
Business

After nearly 38 years, Dade City's Book Shack remains a family operation

DADE CITY — A year ago, Jo Kassabaum contemplated closing the Book Shack, a small store she had owned since she opened it in 1979.

The bookstore was suffering after nearby Pasco Motors closed. Also, after nearly 37 years, she frankly was growing tired of running a full-time business. But when she told family members of her plans to close the business, Kassabaum was met with opposition.

"I told Grandma she wasn't allowed to go out of business," said Kristy Kassabaum, her granddaughter-in-law.

Instead, the younger Kassabaum purchased the business and in October, when the Book Shack celebrated its 37th year in business, moved the store to its newest location — on Seventh Street, between Williams/Lunch on Limoges and Kiefer Village Jewels.

The ownership change — along with the move — has proven successful.

Today, the Book Shack is thriving under the younger Kassabaum's ownership. The move farther downtown was a good one, as the store is more in the center of walking traffic.

The busy mother of two young children and an instructional coach at Pasco Middle School admits she was a bit apprehensive at first about purchasing the business. She wondered if she could compete with online sites such as Amazon and big-box bookstores like Barnes & Noble. But she said each day there's at least one new customer who walks through the doors, if only for the novelty of seeing a bookstore.

"It's rare to see nowadays," Kristy Kassabaum said.

The change also works well for the elder Kassabaum. Although the original plan was to only stay on until June, she has decided to continue to work as a part-time employee.

"As the time (to leave) was getting closer, I realized I didn't want to go," said Jo Kassabaum. "I enjoy it."

The Book Shack has an inventory of about 60,000 used books, all organized by theme (new releases, science fiction, inspirational fiction, religion, horror, historical and others). There also is a selection of new books and children's toys and activity sets.

Customers can spend hours perusing the books. Or, if there's a specific book a customer wants, it can be quickly found. If it isn't available, the book can be ordered.

Margaret Norman, who recently stopped in to trade in books she had recently read for some new selections, said she has been patronizing the Book Shack for more than 20 years. It's worth the drive from her home west of Bushnell.

"Most times, they have the books I want," Norman said. "Whether it's a series or a historical book I like, I know (Jo) will have it."

As the Book Shack nears its 38th year in business, Jo Kassabaum said she has seen three generations of customers at the store, even a few fourth generation.

"They aren't just customers," she said. "They are family."

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