If you’re in search of a book store with products ranging from books to magazines, new to antique, and even some antique maps thrown into the mix as well, then the Old Florida Book Shop is a good place to be. This time the Bookspot of the Week is located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, just off of Griffin Road between I-95 and the Turnpike, and we interviewed the owner William Chrisant to find out more about this massive book shop!
How did your bookstore transition from concept to reality?
It happened gradually. My first store was only an 80 square foot hallway in an antique mall. A few years later I rented a larger space, and some time after that, an even larger space with 14 ft. ceilings in what used to be a Victorian schoolhouse. There I built the interior to have the feel of a European Library. Today we have a space with 16 ft. ceilings, custom built shelves and rolling ladders.
What do you feel is unique to your bookstore?
The main difference is the atmosphere and ambience. Our selection and quality of books (which are difficult to find in South Florida) also sets us apart from other book stores. Additionally, we have a large variety of artwork and prints. The shop is also furnished with large antique bookcases, curios, antiques, oriental rugs, and Tiffany style lamps.
If you had infinite space, what might you add to the store?
About 30 million more books! Primarily, more space for fiction. But if there were to be infinite space, we’d love to have a copy of every book printed available for sale.
How do you feel your bookstore fits into your local community?
Old Florida Book Shop is a cultural treasure with a loyal clientele. There is also our honor system based dollar book section where books can be purchased at any time day or night by simply inserting a dollar (or two) into our mail slot. This makes literature and various topics accessible to everyone at any time.
What does your store offer that a chain or online retailer can’t?
Unique ambience as well as books that are rare, out of print or just difficult to find, as well as the ability to pick up and feel each book rather than viewing it on a screen. Quality is at the forefront of what we bring into the store.
Do you hand-pick your staff to create a specific environment?
Not necessarily, but we do try to hire people who are knowledgeable and pleasant to be around.
How else do you create a welcoming environment?
Before even walking into the store customers see the irresistible dollar book section. Then, as they walk inside they hear our classical or instrumental music from various time periods. We also have a baby grand piano that customers are welcome to play, and our staff is friendly and always happy to assist in any way they can.
What about your store do you think appeals to your neighborhood?
There are items in the store that you can’t find anywhere else in Florida. Not only book items, but also artwork, posters, antique maps, and assorted curios. Many people come in just to surround themselves with the culture of old books. We’ve also had advertisements and parts of movies shot at the shop, as well as wedding and engagement photographs for especially bookish couples.
Do you have any staff picks or releases we should watch out for?
Albert Camus – The Plague // Alan Eckart – Winning of America trilogy // Mark Z. Danielewski – House of Leaves // Walter Tevis – The Queen’s Gambit.
Do you tailor your inventory according to your community?
When acquiring new inventory we look out for items that our customers tend to request most often. Mainly regarding mysticism and the occult, various well known fiction authors that tend to sell very quickly, and classics bound in leather.
Is there anything else that you’d like our audience to know?
Even more Bookspots to discover can be found here!