After many delays due to life getting in the way, I was able to take a day off from my day job and take a 100% Pure Textuality day. When planning my day out, I contacted Heather, one of our fabulous reviewers here at Pure Textuality. She and I hadn’t gotten a chance to do anything really bookish together and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity. So, on a Friday morning, coffee in hand, Heather and I strolled in to Mansfield Books & More.
We arrived just prior to the store opening and within a few minutes, there were already people waiting at the door. We had about 10 minutes to wait and while sitting in the car chatting, we both couldn’t help but keep gawking in the window. My first impression was that we were going to enter a quaint little used book store. Quaint? Yes. Little? Not so much.
George Mansfield, owner and operator of Mansfield’s Books & More, seems like a bit of a local celebrity. As I stated, we were there before they opened and we certainly weren’t the only ones. As I sat and chatted with Mr. Mansfield about the shop, customer continued to come at a steady stream. One customer even brought in her own sidekick – a cute little Pomeranian. The customers all know him and it felt like witnessing a friend just stopping by to say hi rather than a customer coming to buy a book.
With nearly 2 years in operation (May 1st is the 2nd birthday of the shop) and approximately 35 years of experience with books working as a teacher, George certainly knows his stuff. As people came and went and there wasn’t a single thing that anyone could ask to stump him. He knows his inventory inside and out, including what he does and doesn’t have at the shop. And if he doesn’t have it, he has no problem locating it for you online with no mark-up.
As I mentioned above, the store’s appearance on the outside is very misleading. From the front door, the shop looks very small. I expected to see a small eclectic inventory. A mixture of odds and ends in the literary world. However, lacking in the mainstream selections. This was not the case. As I strolled through the store, I thought up a list of about 15 titles that I would love for my personal collection and I not only found every single one of them, I found almost all of them as hardcovers. The secret to Mansfield’s Books & More is that it just keeps going and going. What I thought was a small one room shop is actually many rooms. Each room seems to have a theme of sorts. There is a hallway entrance at the back and no less than 6 rooms branched off of that hallway. And all of the rooms are FULL of books. The spectrum of books available in George’s store continued to blow my mind. No matter what I challenged myself to find, I was not disappointed. He has everything from modern fiction to comic books to classic Golden books! Everything you can think of, you can find here!
Another thing that struck me while speaking with him was George’s genuine love of books and reading. George told me throughout his entire teaching career, he said that he always wanted to own a used book store when he retired. Retirement came around and since his pension pays all of his household expenses, there was no reason not to go for it. So starting with a shoestring budget, he made his dream come true. Stocked from library sales and book donations, the store is up and steadily sputtering. When I stated that I think I would have a hard time running a book store (because of not wanting to get rid of any of the books!), George stated that he approaches it like an adoption agency. He’s ok with seeing the books go because he feels like he’s placing a child in a good home.
Children & Reading – George also feels that books play an incredibly important role in childhood. “A love of reading starts with children,” he tells me. He goes on to explain that last Christmas, he arranged a visit to the local elementary school with a friend of his. They got a “wish list” from the teacher for books that the kids in her class would like. He then proceeded to go to that school to talk to that class, completed off the cuff and unscripted – about the importance of reading and such – in full costume as The Book Wizard. With the help of The Book Fairy (the friend who set him up with the class), they were able to leave each child a book picked out just for them. The Book Fairy also leaves each child with a Beanie Baby animal for Christmas.
George will also be hosting a coloring contest for kids at his shop. The entrants will all be posted on the Wall of Fame behind his counter and the selected winner will receive a $5.00 gift card to the store. The children’s books in the store range from $0.25 to $1.00, most being in the $0.75 area. George feels that a child should be able to walk into his store with a $5.00 bill and walk out with a decent stack of books.
Pricing – The prices in Mansfield’s Books & More are also incredibly reasonable! George states that almost every book in his shop is less than $5.00, with most ranging between $1.00 and $2.25. The exceptions to that are a few high end art books and text books that he has on hand but he states that those are few and far between. To speak from personal experience, I got myself a hardcover copy of Dead in the Family (Charlaine Harris), Black House (Stephen King & Peter Straub), and a beautiful leather bound copy of Emma (Jane Austen) and my grand total was approximately $7.00. Heather got a rather sizeable stack of large paperbacks and her total was around $6.00. George also offers common high school reading at a very low price. His theory behind this is if he charges a student $0.75 for a copy of Shakespeare, they will not feel bad about highlighting and making notes in their copy. He also offers children’s books to grandparents for $0.25 each!
If you’re in the market for new reading material on a budget, George also takes trade-in books to go toward your purchase. Much of his shop inventory is from trade-ins, donations and library sales. He’s also got a “pay it forward” (PIF) deal worked out with a few area bookstores as well. An example of one of these PIF deals is Annie’s Book Stop in Laconia NH. A lot of Annie’s business is done with romance books. So whenever George has romance books donated, he brings them to Annie’s. Or when he has a customer looking for romance books, he will send them to Annie’s. Through an honor system of sorts, they have an agreement. No stepping on each other’s toes and try to help each other out as much as possible. It has worked out great for him thus far and he plans to continue doing business that way. Any donated books that he doesn’t bring to another dealer or doesn’t use himself, he brings to the Franklin Recycling Plant to be turned back into a new book another day.
The “Other” – You may also be wondering what the “& More” is about in Mansfield’s Books & More. One of the first things you notice walking into George’s shop is the fact that there are collectibles and little trinkets throughout the store as well as books. Heather was having a field day going through all of the little things he has on display. One of the cool things she found was a sheathed postcard postmarked 1917. That post card was in a basket FULL of them. There is also a wide selection of other media such as VHS tapes ($0.25 each), DVD’s ($1.00 each) and cassette tapes.
George is also involved with the publishing of Tilton’s first ever published postcard book. Titled ‘Around Tilton: 1850-1950’, the expected release date in sometime in June and it will be published by Acadia Books.
Events – Mansfield’s Books & More has recently gotten into hosting a wide array of events – all of which are becoming a regular thing.
On Feb. 10th, Mansfield’s hosted a Music Jam Night. 4 or 5 local guitarists/musicians came in to play music for whoever wanted to attend.
On Feb 12th, they played host to a Native American Healing Circle. This event will actually be happening again on Feb 26th.
On Feb 24th, there will be a poetry evening at Mansfield’s.
And if all of that isn’t interesting enough, how about a Paranormal Evening? Mansfield’s was recently investigated by a paranormal investigation team and they believe that there are 3 spirits residing in the store. The paranormal team is planning to come back for a full overnight investigation. However, a firm date has not been set yet. They are looking at being back sometime within the next 1-2 months.
Mansfield’s Books & More is a wonderful “little” shop with a great atmosphere and a wonderful selection of books. A place where customers who all share a love of reading can come in and feel welcome. George said that he knew the first time he saw the shop that it was meant to be. He wanted a safe, quiet place for customers to come in and share in what they love. As for George, he loves it here. “One of my favorite quotes is ‘If your vocation is your vacation, you’re in the right place’”. George has found that with Mansfield’s Books & More.
For more information regarding Mansfield’s Books and More, search them on Facebook or just drop by!
Mansfield’s Books & More
291 Main Street
Tilton NH 03276
|Tue||10am – 5pm|
|Wed||10am – 5pm|
|Thu||10am – 5pm|
|Fri||10am – 6pm|
|Sat||10am – 4pm|