When Sheri Scruby got involved in her children’s Accelerated Reader program at Glenwood Springs Elementary back in the late 1990s, little did she know that she was embarking on a journey that would encompass the next two decades of her life.
Selecting books for the school led to finding and selling books online from home in 2000. “I’ve always loved books—reading them and talking about them,” says Scruby. “Selling books was just a natural extension of my hobby.”
When stacks of books started accumulating in her basement and garage, she began looking for a space in town from which to operate her growing business. Book Grove opened in 2004 at the corner of 8th Street and Blake Avenue, and celebrated its 15th anniversary this past spring.
“The store has been a real hub for book lovers, both locals and visitors,” says Scruby, adding, “we have lots of repeat customers who stop in every time they’re in town.” She recalls a couple from Longmont that comes in once or twice a year and buys a dozen or more biographies and memoirs.
The store carries a wide variety of genres for all ages, so the clientele is as varied as the inventory. “We get everything from the casual reader who reads one or two books per year to the avid collector who might have a library of five or ten thousand books. There was a woman in last week who is reading all of Stephen King’s novels in order,” says Scruby.
She adds that customers will often recommend books to each other right there in the store. "A lot of great ideas are exchanged here. People who like to read usually like to talk about their interests, so conversation is a big part of the shop’s dynamics,” she says. “I could write a book about all the fascinating people that have come through these doors.”
Scruby continues, “We live in an abundant valley with a lot of well-read, curious people, so some pretty interesting books find their way into the shop. I’m very particular about what makes it onto our shelves, in terms of both subject matter and condition.”
Book Grove’s wall-to-wall shelves are filled with pre-owned books about railroads, gardening, cooking, field guides about plants, trees, and animals; classics, self-help, health and nutrition, and since the Book Train closed in April, a selection of new merchandise. “After Book Train closed, we started carrying some current bestsellers and books about the local area, along with blank journals, area trail maps and local greeting cards,” says Scruby. “We’re trying to fill the gap.” The store also carries a selection of vinyl records, compact discs, audiobooks, and vintage postcards.
Online sales connect Book Grove to the global book community. Scruby notes, “We can be a resource for readers whether they live in Denver or Salt Lake City, or halfway around the world in Europe. People can search our online inventory at our website, and we also feature unique books on Facebook and Instagram and ship them all over the country. I’m on a first-name basis with the folks at the post office.”
Book Grove has been a labor of love for Scruby. “Selling books might not be a get-rich-quick scheme, but it’s a vital aspect of the intellectual life of the community, and I love doing it. I know what people like and what sells, so I’m always on the lookout for fresh inventory. It’s been like an ongoing treasure hunt.”
When asked about the name Book Grove, Scruby replies, “Groves are communities of trees, and often their roots are interconnected, forming a single organism. I’d like to think that Book Grove connects people in our community in ways that might not happen otherwise. It certainly has connected me to the community in ways that I’ll always cherish. It’s been a huge part of my life.”
As long as there continues to be a robust community of readers and collectors, Book Grove will remain a gathering place for people who love books. The next chapters of Book Grove’s story are still being written.
Doug Straw is a freelance writer and the owner of MountainCom LLC, a marketing and strategic communication agency.