By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — It may not be much to look at now, but just you wait.
That’s the attitude that seemed to permeate the old Town and County Appliance building in downtown Goshen Saturday afternoon as scores of volunteers ripped up floors, tore down siding and knocked down walls in preparation for the planned relocation of the downtown resale bookstore Better World Books to the building this summer from its current location at 118 E. Washington St.
“Better World Books is moving over into this space, and when we were talking to people about what we were doing, a lot of people were like, ‘Hey, how can we help? What can we do?’. So this is the first of a couple of volunteer days we’re doing to try and get the building ready,” said Better World Books manager Brad Weirich. “This is demolition day, and these guys have just been amazing. There was just a small section of the floor done when we started, and almost the entire rest of it has been done, they’ve torn down walls, ripped up carpet, cleaned... it’s been just great.”
The Better World Books relocation is the first of what will actually be three big changes to Goshen’s downtown this summer. With Better World Books’ move to the old Town and Country Appliance building, the popular downtown coffee shop The Electric Brew will be moving from its current location at 136 S. Main St. to the old Better World Books site. Once that move is completed, the Shishewana-based Jojo’s Pretzels will then install a satellite shop at the Electric Brew’s old location.
“Space was really the primary decision on why we decided to relocate,” said Weirich of the move. “We’ve outgrown where we’re at. There’s just nowhere left to expand.”
While he loves the book store’s current location, Weirich said the possibilities for expansion available through a move to the old Town and Country building were just too much to pass up.
“We’re occupying approximately 3,000 square feet at our current location on Washington Street, and just the retail space alone at the new location is going to be almost 10,000 square feet,” Weirich said. “In fact, with the move we believe that we’re going to be the largest independent book store in Indiana.”
According to Weirich, the store should officially be settled in its new location by July 1, though it is his hope that move-in date could actually come even sooner.
“If all goes well — and if today is any indication it will — I’d like it to be before that,” Weirich said. “But there are so many moving parts with a move like this, it’s really hard to be sure. Right now we’re pulling up the floor to expose the original wood, trying to get the antique windows on the side opened up, just trying to kind of take out the layers of modernity and get it back to it’s original state. So it’s a lot of work that still needs to be done.”
As for what the store will look like once the transition has been completed, Weirich said the building will still have that distinct Better World Books feel, only on a much larger scale.
“It’ll have everything we’ve got now, just expanded,” Weirich said. “So we’ll have lots and lots of books, for sure. We’re also going to expand into a few different product lines, like more toys, games, maybe some stationary and gift items. But primarily it’ll be books. They’re the core of our business, and that’s not going to change.”
In addition to its relocation to the old Better World Books site, The Electric Brew will also be locating a small satellite shop inside the new book store location allowing patrons to sip cappuccinos and tea while perusing their favorite authors, all in the comfort of one building.
Goshen’s Stephanie Honderich, one of the many Better World Books fans to turn out for the volunteer work day Saturday afternoon, said she personally can’t wait for the move to happen.
“It’s really exciting,” Honderich said. “I’m really excited about the move, all the expansion they’re going to have. It’s a really cool space, too, so I’m just glad I can play a little bit of a role in making it happen.”
For those that missed Saturday’s work day but still wish to help out, Weirich said there are still several more volunteer days that will need to take place before the building can be deemed move-in ready.
“We’re going to have a few more volunteer days before this is all over,” Weirich said with a laugh. “I think either next week or the week after we’re going to do a painting day. Then after that we’ll have a moving day, and that one is going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be really cool looking because we’re going to have carts full of books running up and down the streets, and then empty carts running down the alley. It should be a really fun day.”