GOSHEN — When Brad Weirich was in college, he wrote an editorial about owning his own bookstore one day.
“I promptly put it away and forgot about it,” said Weirich said now the retail manager of Goshen’s Better World Books. “My mom found it and gave it to me when we opened (the bookstore) in Goshen five years ago. Books always have been an important part of my life. I have a great interest in books.”
Better World Books has been an important part of Goshen’s downtown experience ever since it opened. The past summer, Weirich relocated the bookstore to the former Town & Country Appliances store at 215 S. Main Street after being on East Washington Street since 2008.
“I didn’t expect to expand even though I had dreams,” he said. “I have dreams of expanding more now. We opened when the economy tanked a little bit and didn’t know we’d make it past the first year. It’s been five years and we’re doing pretty good.”
The move allowed Weirich to triple the floor space for his inventory and occurred six months sooner than he originally anticipated.
Weirich said the idea to move to a location on Main Street came from a meeting in the spring about the future of the Goshen Theater directly across the street.
“I wanted to be a part of Main Street. I thought it was a great idea — moving,” Weirich said, smiling. “Business is good. It’s about what I predicted. The more product on the shelves, the more profit margin we have and more growth to happen. We have better exposure on Main Street rather than on a side street.”
The store offers about 30,000 new and used books, with 85 percent of the inventory being used books.
“I am a lot smarter about the types of books and knowing what our customers like,” he said. “I have six employees now, up from four on the side-street location. My employees interact with the customers. It’s important to be engaging with the customers and know what they like.”
There is a compact version of The Electric Brew inside the bookstore, where customers can purchase a latte to drink while browsing the shelves looking for that special book or just reading and relaxing while sitting in a easy chair or sofa in the store.
The main Electric Brew re-located to Better World’s old space next to Ignition Garage.
With the added square footage, Weirich has been able to expand his inventory with other products besides books, including board games, toys and stationary.
“I enjoy gaming with my group of friends,” Weirich said, “and it’s fun how that group of friends has expanded and embraced gaming here with the expansion.”
In fact, Wednesday afternoon he was teaching the DC Comics Deck-building Game, to a young customer at one of the many tables in the new location.
“It’s a horrible name, but a fun game,” he said. “I just sell it. I don’t design games.”
Does Weirich get to read much now that he’s so busy running a bookstore?
“I read significantly less now,” he said. “I read many more book reviews. Reading is a luxury. I like to read stories, fiction and sci-fi (science fiction). Things that transport me to different places and times, those are my favorite.”
He said he enjoys going to movies with his wife, Missy, and playing Ultimate Frisbee in the summers as well as board games like “Dominion and Tichu, among many others.”
“I even can go on vacation during the slow times,” he said, which includes October plus February and March after the back-to-school rush.
His goal is to make customers comfortable enough to keep them coming back.
“The expansion possibilities are endless,” he said. “There’s the whole second floor and we expanded in the basement by adding bookshelves and carpeting when we moved in. I hope to do this until I retire.”
Just the Facts Name: Brad Weirich Age: 40 Hometown: Goshen Current town: Goshen Daytime job: Retail manager at Better World Books Wife: Missy Weirich, 13 years Education: B.A. in Education from Goshen College Hobbies and Interests: Ultimate Frisbee, board games, movies