A new chapter is being written for the Midlothian Book Exchange.
A few months ago it looked as if the used bookstore in the Village Marketplace Shopping Center off Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County would close. Longtime owner Martha Graydon had announced earlier this year she was retiring and spent months looking for a buyer.
She finally got an offer in late July. The new owner - Caroline Davidson - officially takes over on Oct. 1, although she has been working with Graydon for the last couple of weeks.
"I love books," Davidson said. "There truly is a passion for books that started at a really young age."
Davidson said she is eager to start a new chapter for the bookstore.
"I am really excited.... But I'm also nervous," she said. "I'm excited to see the customers come in and just say thank you for keep a safe place to come. That has been so rewarding. But anything that is a new adventure, especially in the middle of COVID, is a little bit daunting."
Graydon, whose parents founded the Midlothian Book Exchange in 1986, said she thinks Davidson is up to the task.
"I was very fortunate to find a buyer," Graydon said.
But in early July, the prospects didn't look promising. She didn't have any offers and had little interest. She needed to close the store by late August, when her lease expires. Graydon started liquidating the merchandise by offering a higher discount.
Davidson, who has been a customer for years, decided to visit the store one day in early July when books were selling for 75% off.
"We came in to say goodbye," Davidson said, noting that her mother and Graydon's mother had taught at J.B. Watkins Elementary School in the early 1970s and Davidson's father knew the store while a county police officer whose beat included that area of Midlothian Turnpike.
While at the store, the idea struck her - what about buying the Midlothian Book Exchange herself. "I looked at my mom and my mom said 'Why don't we think about doing it.' And then the pieces of the puzzles fell into place and we bought it."
The sale initially was supposed to be effective Sept. 1, but Davidson's basement flooded in mid-August and she needed more time to get that taken care of before taking on the ownership of a bookstore.
When Davidson signed the purchase agreement, Graydon said she stopped liquidation sale and "tried to go back to normal and try to reinvigorate the store."
Davidson said she doesn't plan any major changes to the operations of 7,200-square-foot store.
The store will continue to take trade-ins for its inventory and give credits to customers for those books. Customers bringing in books receive a one-fourth of the list price in shopping credit, which can be used toward half of that person’s total purchase. The used books are typically sold at half of the list price.
"Everyone would revolt if I did any major changes. The basic foundation of the business is not going to change," Davidson said.
The one change that will take place is the hours of operation. The Midlothian Book Exchange will be closed on Sundays and Mondays, starting Oct. 4.
The store had operated seven days a week until the pandemic hit. Graydon switched hours in May to being closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.