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January 30, 2013

Expansion under way for Friends Library Store

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — The Friends of the Rochester Hills Public Library store is getting a facelift.

On Jan. 5, the gift shop — known as the Friends Library Store — closed for expansion into the adjacent, newly unoccupied space that was formerly the first floor photocopy room. The store is expected to reopen, with some new Michigan-made products, this week.

Library Director Christine Hage said the library recently upgraded and merged all the photocopiers in the library, which allowed her to empty the photocopy room adjacent to the Friends Library Store.

“We were trying to consolidate the library’s photocopy services, so we were able to save money by consolidating things. We did not need to have a first floor copy room, which was adjacent to the store, so we decided to give the space to the store, which has been in operation continuously for over 20 years and has given tens of thousands of dollars to the library through their resale efforts. We were pleased that we were able to expand the store,” she said.

Hage said the Friends store was outgrowing its 220-square-foot space — which was packed to the brim with home and garden décor, costume jewelry, greeting cards, fashion accessories, a variety of Michigan-made products, bookends, book totes and more.

The store will gain an extra 150-square-feet during the expansion, increasing the retail space by nearly 50 percent.

“The visual image has gotten a lot bigger, and better, with more windows and more unusual product lines from Michigan and across the U.S. that you might not see in your everyday store,” said Darlene Tomczyk, volunteer store manager who orders the majority of the merchandise and creates all of the store displays.

The Friends Library Store is also the exclusive retailer of the pewter ornaments produced by the Friends, depicting statues in and around the library, along with the ever-popular Pewabic Pottery, fossils and minerals, and more.

“We always are looking for emerging new customers, and hopefully the new Michigan products will help that,” Tomczyk said. “Now we’ll be able to add to the lines we currently carry, particularly with more made-in-Michigan merchandise, like artisan pottery, framed photography, a new food line called Cherry Republic, more jewelry and so on.”

The library store has maintained sales levels in the past year and even showed a slight increase, according to Hage. Since its inception 20 years ago, the store has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Profits from all sales in the store, which is run entirely by volunteers, go directly to support programs and initiatives of the library.

“The store is run completely by volunteers, and they do a marvelous job. We see ourselves as more of a museum store, so I’m glad we were able to give them more space. They certainly needed it, and hopefully it will boost their profits for next year. All the money that’s raised goes to the library and supports public programs and services,” Hage added.

As a reward for loyal patrons, a Grand Re-Opening Sale is planned for this week, featuring discounts, drawings and giveaways. Virtually everything in the store will be discounted 20 percent during the first week, and a special library-themed gift will be included with each purchase. Also, during February, weekly drawings for a Michigan-made product will be held. Notice of the date of the re-opening will be posted on the library website, as well as on signs in the library.

The Friends Library Store is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.