Cheryl Sharrow, of Goodrich, will retire on Sept. 5 after owning the Village Book Exchange in Warren for 41 years. “Over the years, I’ve tried to have a little bit of everything but I depend solely on what people trade in,” Sharrow said. “I depend on my customers to supply me, and they’ve done a good job.”

Cheryl Sharrow, of Goodrich, will retire on Sept. 5 after owning the Village Book Exchange in Warren for 41 years. “Over the years, I’ve tried to have a little bit of everything but I depend solely on what people trade in,” Sharrow said. “I depend on my customers to supply me, and they’ve done a good job.”

Photo by Brian Louwers


Village Book Exchange owner set to retire after 41 years on Mound Road

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published August 21, 2020

 The Village Book Exchange is located at 31614 Mound Road, north of 13 Mile Road. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, visit www.villagebookexchange.com.

The Village Book Exchange is located at 31614 Mound Road, north of 13 Mile Road. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, visit www.villagebookexchange.com.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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WARREN — Cheryl Sharrow spent the days this summer closing the book on her storied career as a business owner along Mound Road, in the historic Village of Warren district.

The “book lady” opened the Village Book Exchange in 1979 with her husband, Joseph, a retired Warren firefighter. She spent the last 41 years getting to know her customers, learning what they like to read and helping them trade the books they’d read for credit toward new-used works of fiction, nonfiction and science fiction.

The ever-revolving collection housed within the walls of the building at Beebe Avenue on the east side of Mound had dwindled somewhat by late August. Shelves that were once packed full of used books were starting to clear, but customers were still coming in to pick up books they hadn’t read.

Her last day in business will be Sept. 5. The building built in 1942, which previously housed a television and electronics repair shop, has already been sold.

“I was looking for a business that I could handle myself. We wanted a small business in Warren, and we’re both avid readers,” Sharrow said. “We opened Sept. 1, 1979, so I’ll be here 41 years and five days.

Sharrow said she’s only the second owner to occupy the space. The Rumps, the former owners, built the building and the home behind it and ran a Motorola television and repair shop there. A renter moved in later and used a kiln to fire pottery before the Sharrows agreed to clean up the place and turn it into a book exchange.

“We started with a small amount of stock and because the community was so helpful and so encouraging, we have been able to stay in business this many years,” Sharrow said. “Enjoyed every single day. I have the best customers in the world.”     
Of course, the times have changed. Electronic readers and e-books have gained in popularity for some. Sharrow said it “changed my business completely,” especially among young people.

“I saw it coming. Do you remember when we used to drive to a video store, get a movie, drive home and watch the movie and then drive back? Then we got cable,” Sharrow said. “Well, what’s happening for me is a similar thing, except it’s the e-reader. I know people are into convenience, and the e-reader is all about convenience. So that definitely, definitely made a difference in my business, but didn’t discourage me.”

Electronic books and e-readers aren’t for everyone though, and Sharrow said she still has many loyal customers who enjoy the hands-on experience of turning the pages of a good book.    

“I like it because it’s just a quaint little store and coming here, you get lost in all these books,” said Kim Hoover, of Warren, who has been a customer at the Village Book Exchange for 30 years.

“Especially with the COVID, it just makes it nice to come here and stock up on books,” Hoover said.

Fiction novels are the store’s specialty: mysteries, romance, science fiction and fantasy. They also offer nonfiction books, classics and recorded books on CD.

With her retirement pending, Sharrow has encouraged her customers to use any in-store credit for past exchanges. Because the store is closing, she can’t take trade-ins as new stock in exchange for customer purchases anymore. Still, there’s plenty of books and bargains to be found.

Books are now being sold at 25% of the cover price. They used to be sold at half price.

“Over the years, I’ve tried to have a little bit of everything, but I depend solely on what people trade in,” Sharrow said. “I depend on my customers to supply me, and they’ve done a good job.”

She said she’s now seeing third-generation customers come into the store from families she’s sold books to all these years.

“I think when you own your own business, you make your own rules. My idea was always to help my customers find books,” Sharrow said. “Customer service comes before anything.

“You know, people can get books at garage sales. I think a lot of my customers come because I help them. I suggest books. I really encourage them to maybe try a new author. This brings them back. Because you can get a used book in a lot of different places.”

Sharrow, who lives in the Genesee County village of Goodrich, said it wasn’t the rise of e-books that convinced her to retire. It was the passage of time.

“What made me start thinking about it was when I was here 40 years,” Sharrow said. “It’s time to spend some time with the family, retire, but I always wanted to go out in a positive way.

“It’s been great. It’s been really great,” Sharrow said. “The area is wonderful.”

The Village Book Exchange is located at 31614 Mound Road, at Beebe Avenue. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, visit www.villagebookexchange.com.

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