Sun City’s small used book store is can’t really be called small anymore, at least from a revenue standpoint.
Books Around the Corner, the store created to provide revenue for the Friends of the Sun City Libraries, already passed a revenue milestone this year. The store had more in sales through 10 months in 2019 than it had all year in 2018.
“The increase in traffic at the book store has been phenominal in the past six years,” said Marcia Davis, outgoing Friends of the Sun City Libraries Board of Directors president.
The store, which opened only nine years ago, registered just more than $40,000 in sales in 2018. Through the end of October this year, the store had $41,600 in sales, according to Jessica Potter Slider, board treasurer. She is preparing the Friends’ 2020 budget and because of the sales increase, she plans to raise the projected revenue for the store in the 2020 budget. Just five years ago book store annual proceeds were $38,000.
“The volume of customers and the inventory at the book store is doing very well,” said Sue Blechl, who assumd the Friends board president role during the group’s Nov. 14 meeting. “Mary Anne (McDonald, book store manager) and her staff are doing an excellent job and they really deserve all the praise we can give them.”
Making the book store’s income growth more interesting is that Ms. McDonald and her staff are all volunteers, as are all those in the Friends and its various divisions. In addition, a vast majority of the books and other materials sold at the book store are donated. Donors can drop off their materials 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday at the book store, located inside the Sun City branch library, 16828 N. 99th Ave., at the Bell Recreation Center. The only items not accepted are VHS tapes, Readers Digest condensed books, National Geographic magazines and Arizona Highways magazines.
All proceeds from Books Around the Corner go to support Sun City libraries’ programs, equipment, materials — books, DVDs CDs, large print books, computers, shelving, the Gathering Place reading/meeting room — and more. While Sun City’s libraries — the Sun City branch and the Fairway branch at Fairway Recreation Center, 10600 W. Peoria Ave. — are operated under the umbrella of the Maricopa County Library District, the Friends provide a variety of support to the libraries beyond financial.
Part of the book store’s success can be attributed to the Friends board’s attention to promotion and community outreach.
Roberta Hawksworth, Friends publicity chairwoman, said advertisements are placed in local newspapers — including outside the Sun City community.
“That has brought a lot more people into the book store,” she said.
The board also, in the last two years, turned to other avenues of promotion. Ms. Slider said tote bags and ball point pens with the Friends logo and book store address were purchased and handed out at community events.
Other community outreach programs include the Book Buddies, in which books are delivered by volunteers to the homebound, and Book Friends, in which volunteers read to residents of memory care facilities. Charlotte Klose, Book Friends coordinator, said there are 10 volunteer readers for the Woodmark, 17207 N. Boswell Blvd., Sun City and another 10 for the Inn at the Amethyst, 18172 N. 91st Ave., Peoria, a facility added this year.
Monica Fallon, Book Buddies coordinator, said that program also has plenty of volunteers but needs more readers to sign up.
Del Webb opened the first five model homes in Sun City in 1960 and after record first year home sales, the need for a library to serve the community’s cultural, educational and recreational needs was recognized. Sun City gave 820 square feet in the Town Hall Center, now the Fairway Recreation Center site, for use as the community’s first library. Maricopa County Library supplied the initial inventory of 2,500 books and eight volunteers ran the library.
An informal “Friends of the Library” group was organized to raise money and to serve as volunteers. The following year the Friends recognized the need for, and created, a Library Operating Board. The Sun City Library, Inc. was formed as a nonprofit, tax exempt corporation, which controlled the library until 2009.
Always in need of financial support, the Friends of the Library used a large variety of fundraising methods, including
an organized annual bridge marathon.
Facing continual financial challenges in 2008 — even a controversial fee for library cards did not meet the needs — the Sun City Library voted to pursue becoming part of the Maricopa County Library District, which became official the following year. The SunCity Library became the Friends of the Sun City Libraries and settled into its new role, its mission to enhance the community through its support.
Books Around the Corner opened in 2009 in the old Hoover Room of the Bell library.