The old-book smell is a familiar one for Steve Cors. He's been breathing it for 16 years, ever since he got into the business of selling used reads in a small shop in the Sunshine Plaza on State Road 52. Tunes, Tales and Treasures is a landmark of sorts, a "word of mouth" kind of place filled with an eclectic mix meant to suit most anyone's taste.
Building an inventory of 30,000 used books and 45,000 old records, CDs and tapes has been a labor of love for Cors, a New York transplant, who over the years has perused his share of flea markets, estate sales and yards sales.
Have a favorite author you'd like to read during that summer road trip? Maybe Robert Parker, Kurt Vonnegut, Danielle Steel, H.G. Wells or John Grisham? Got a hankering to fire up Ferris Bueller's Day Off or The Lion King on that outdated VCR? Maybe spin some old tunes? Sarah Vaughn, perhaps? Joan Armatrading, Ray Charles, Benny Goodman or Barry Manilow? How about a little Pink Floyd, Captain and Tennille, James Taylor or his less famous brother, Livingston?
It's all here. Floor to ceiling.
Much of it has been going out the door these past weeks in a fire sale.
"It's been dynamite," said Cors as he worked the register on Thursday. "They're bringing them up by the arm load."
Add to that the boxes packed with donations for fundraising book sales held at Hudson Middle School, Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative and the Regency Park and Hudson libraries, and it seems that he's finally putting a dent in his stock.
It's all part of a new-life plan.
Cors figures that if he can downsize the inventory so it will fit into one affordable storefront, he will finally sell the business and retire. That puts him another step closer to handing over the keys to the shop's future owner and current employee, Kathy Horners.
"It's time. It's time to retire," said Cors, 66. "My wife retired three years ago. She's been waiting for me. And making the rent on two spaces is getting harder since it just went up."
It's been 10 years since Cors took on a second storefront because his business was going gangbusters. That expansion was featured June 19, 2000, in the Pasco Times. Since then the store has weathered a few economical storms along with the advent of the Internet, which Cors was savvy enough to embrace by becoming a used book vendor for amazon.com.
"Walk-in business isn't great," he said. "It holds steady, but a good part of what goes in my bank account I sell on the Internet. Books I sell here for $5 here can sell for $50, maybe even $60, on amazon.com."
The Internet holds some promise, Cors said, as do the new crop of teenagers showing an interest in old vinyl.
"They love that '70s stuff," he said. "I can't get enough of it."
That, says Cors, would be Horners' expertise, and one of the reasons he thinks she would be a good fit at the helm of Tunes, Tales and Treasures.
"She knows the business," he said. "She knows more about the music than I do."
"I love the records — the records are my thing," said Horners, 53, as she sorted through a box of old 45s that are typically sought out by collectors and jukebox owners. "I grew up in the '70s so I was right there. The young people come in looking for the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin — and I know right where to find it."
A New Jersey native and a hungry reader with a love for fantasy novels, Horners said she fell in love with the place seven years ago when she wandered in looking for an Ann Rice novel.
"I was going through a divorce and I needed a job, so I asked him if he needed any help," she said. "This is like home away from home. I love it here. I even like the old book smell."
With that kind of shared love, a smaller store front with lower rent, Horners might very well make a go of it, Cors said.
Then he'll be free to join his wife, Loraine, a former librarian, who has been spending her retirement traveling with old school chums to places like Alaska, Wyoming and the Panama Canal.
There's that railroad trip through Alaska he's got his sights set on, and 10 acres of rough land they own in Hudson that needs tending. And there's more time to be spent reeling in trout, snook and anything else he can catch on the flats off of Hudson.
"I've got to get out there before that oil spill hits," he said.
For now, Cors says he'll be spending his days at the shop whittling down all that inventory.
"I don't want all these books to end up in a Dumpster," he said. "I want to make sure they go some place good. So I'll be here till everything's gone."
Michele Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 869-6251.