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How to get the most out of Grassroots Books warehouse sales

By Laurel Busch

By Laurel Busch

somanybooks“So many books, so little time” applies to shopping at Grassroots Books warehouse sales as well as to reading. Here are a few things I’ve learned about the experience that might be helpful:

  • The best selection is at 9 the first day. I’ve never seen that firsthand because I hate crowds, but people I know make their best finds then. I still find several books to buy no matter when I get there. (We’re talking about more than 8,000 books.)
  • Everything is 99 cents except children’s books, which are 25 cents. On the last day (Sunday), you can fill a grocery-size bag for $4.99.
  • If you ask an employee how the books are organized, everyone within earshot will be amused. The books are organized by size and shape.
  • With that said, there is slightly more organization than that (which may change from one sale to the next). In general, hardbacks are around the edges and paperbacks are in the center. All the children’s books are in the back corner. Fiction and nonfiction are mixed, but a lot of paperback novels are together. The oldest books (1940s and older?) are usually under the tables, but so are lots of others. Sometimes you can tell all the books in one box came from the same person, which is helpful if you have the same taste.
  • You won’t be able to look at every book in the sale. Even if you were compulsive enough to try (and I am) and even if you had a whole day and the stamina to do it (and I don’t), it wouldn’t be possible because the selection changes while you’re shopping.
  • Employees put out “fresh” boxes of books throughout the sale. They helpfully label them with the day and time, but then they unhelpfully stack them on top of other books and move books between older and newer boxes.
  • Go with a tolerant attitude toward inconsiderate people. If people who block aisles, talk loudly, or put books back upside down drive you nuts, it’s probably not worth going.
  • For obvious reasons, don’t take items from the front of the store into the warehouse.
  • Taking a list of books you hope to find is probably a waste of time and, again, amuses experienced shoppers.
  • What will you find? You never know. Any type of book that’s been published is there–fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, traditionally and self-published, children’s books. I’ve seen books in Russian and Japanese alphabets. Most are from the 1960s  through the present. I bought a copy of Guns, Germs, and Steel that was put in the warehouse sale only because the store already had several copies (at a higher price) on its shelves. Yesterday I saw a couple of trade paperback copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, which is still on the best-seller list. There are also CDs, books on tape, and even board games. Last month they had a case of farts in a can.

Going to a Grassroots warehouse sale to shop for a specific book is probably a waste of time, but if books, bargains, and serendipity make you happy, you should try it.

Cross posted on “Books in the City of Trembling Leaves,” Laurel’s Northern Nevada books blog. For news on local books, authors and book events, follow Trembling Leaves @NorNVbooks on Twitter.

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