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Book Stall turning pages on 35th anniversary

Claire and Ken Jones have owned the Book Stall in Brandon for 35 years. It is a place where customers can buy and swap paperbacks from a collection of 30,000 volumes.

ERIC VICIAN | Special to the Times

Claire and Ken Jones have owned the Book Stall in Brandon for 35 years. It is a place where customers can buy and swap paperbacks from a collection of 30,000 volumes.

BRANDON — Claire and Ken Jones are not fans of the Kindle, Nook or any other e-reader for that matter.

While e-books have grown in popularity during the past six years, the Joneses have an old-school take on book reading — paperbacks.

It's a formula that has worked for them since they launched the Book Stall in 1978 across from Brandon Hospital in Oakfield Plaza.

After 35 years, they still believe books should have paper pages that turn.

"Business is down (because of e-readers)," Claire said. "On the other hand, we have a lot of loyal customers."

Sister stores Borders and Waldenbooks could have used, before going bankrupt in 2011, the clientele the Joneses have come to know. And Barnes & Noble also could take note that there is a market in trading and selling paperback books.

Claire said customers include homeschooled students through collegians and retirees and they travel from as far as Plant City, Sun City Center or Oviedo to buy and trade books, many that are out of circulation. Customers receive store credit when they bring in old books in good condition and can buy books at half the retail price, plus a 10-cent service charge.

With an average sale price of $4.10, and a rack of books that go three for a dollar or 35 cents each, a "good" customer spends roughly $25 a week. The Book Stall stopped renting hardbacks when e-readers debuted. Gone too are CliffsNotes.

Ken built most of the yellow wooden shelves and end caps that house some 30,000 tomes arranged by genre, then alphabetically by author. Fiction, romance, paranormal and other titles are stacked as high as 7 feet and make the 1,000-square-foot location resemble an old library — something Claire knows a thing about after working as Brandon High School's librarian from 1973 to 1999.

The Book Stall also adapted to technology after decades of accepting cash or checks only.

"We never took credit cards until a year ago," Ken said. "It has been our salvation."

Duplicate titles are donated to many charities and organizations including veterans, the Brandon Regional Library and even the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office — for prisoners.

Call (813) 685-8402 to see if they have a book you want.

East Coast Pizza expands in Riverview

Aaron Fredricks moved from New York nine years ago with the idea of bringing New York-style brick-oven pizza to Riverview. He opened East Coast Pizza, a fast, casual eatery, at 13340 Lincoln Road in 2005.

After shutting briefly in October for renovations, the popular pizza place reopened Nov. 4 with 4,100 square feet of space — 2,800 more than when it originally opened. Fredricks said the improvements were made to increase output for his customers.

"Our wait time on Friday nights was an hour and a half," he said. "This should take our wait time down to 45 minutes during our busy time. I've been wanting to do (the expansion), but was waiting for the right time. Once I saw them break ground on the hospital (St. Joseph's — South), I knew it was the right time."

East Coast Pizza now has more kitchen space, additional pizza ovens, a new computer system and a separate party/meeting room that can hold up to 80 people. Fredricks has applied for a full liquor license to use for special occasions in that area.

Fredricks said pepperoni pizza is his most ordered item, but he recommends the pinwheels, garlic rolls and zeppole for dessert. After learning how to handle rising dough in Florida's humidity, he also installed water filters that Fredricks says helps the dough and fountain drinks taste better.

East Coast Pizza is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Call in orders at (813) 234-1700 or order online at eastcoastpizza.com.

If you know of something that should be Everybody's Business, email Eric Vician at ericvician@yahoo.com.

Book Stall turning pages on 35th anniversary 11/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 4:41pm]
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