By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Each month, the Madison Chamber of Commerce selects a local business to spotlight as the “Business of the Month.” For February, it is the Old Book Store, 317 SW Pinckney Street, owned by Lucile Cherry. She received a congratulatory balloon and floral arrangement courtesy of The Madison Florist, and a sign to display outside her business for the entire month of February.
The Old Book Store had its beginning in 1982, in one of the many little shops on West Base Street. Mark Cherry, who had retired as a history professor from North Florida Junior College, and his wife Lucile, who had retired as guidance counselor from Madison High School, went into the business because of Mark’s lifelong love of books, and because, as he said, he “could not sit and rock.”
From the time they married, Mark and Lucile shopped at many bookstores, and as their sons grew up, they would often ask if they “had to stop at another book store.” Through the years, their personal collection of books grew, especially after Mark’s uncle in Lillington, North Carolina, gave him his library of Americana, Natural Science and Natural History books.
With these, and their personal collection, the Cherrys opened The Old Book Store.
In the late 1980’s, the store moved to the Pinckney Street side of the building, where the Creatures Featured Pet Store is now. In 1992, the store moved again, across the street to its current location. The new place had pink walls, but since there was no time for repainting, the younger son Doug told Mark to tell his customers that he was “so macho” the pink walls didn’t bother him.
Each time the store moved, it was because of the growing volume of books and how Mark wanted to display and organize them. The last move to 317 SW Pinckney was a lot of work; Lucile and Lu Sands packed up the books while older son Allen and grandson Darryl Cherry transported them across the street, where Mark organized and shelved them. He could tell anyone with great certainty whether he had a particular book, and even where it was located on the shelf.
Mark knew exactly what kind and type of books he wanted to keep in the store, and he and Lucile would go to the annual Friends of the Library sales in Tallahassee, Valdosta, Gainesville and Jacksonville to find them. After their first year in business, they were invited to join the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association.
At one time or another, each of their four grandchildren worked at the bookstore, usually during the summers and after school. All of them enjoyed spending time at the store and inherited their grandparents’ love of books.
The first room in The Old Book Store is an attraction for children and adults alike, with a number of collectibles and an eclectic mix of items. Mark brought some of his old cameras to place on a shelf, and the collection grew when customers added to it. The room also has an assortment of pictures on the wall and artifacts from Mark’s teaching of anthropology. One of Hank Allen’s creations, given to the store by his wife, hangs at the entrance.
The categories of books now includes: Health and Fitness; Modern Fiction; Old Fiction; Science Fiction; Christian Fiction; Old Non-Fiction; Non-Fiction; Presidents and First Ladies; Art; Adventure; Mystery and Detective; Americana; Foreign Languages; Reference; Psychology; Religion; Humor; Sports; Performing Arts; Disaster; Florida; Biography; Business; War and Military; Civil War; True Crime; Cookbooks; Crafts; Juvenile; Birds-Animals-Nature.
When Mark passed away in August 1999, Lucile and sons Allen and Doug had to make a major decision, because Mark had managed the store and knew every detail of the inventory. With encouragement from customers far and near, Lucile decided to continue running the store.
Diane Cherry (Head), Lucile’s granddaughter and a recent graduate from the University of Florida, decided to help. That began a new chapter in book sales.
Mark had been listing in the American Booksellers publication; however, booksellers were now using the internet, so Diane put the store’s inventory on the internet through ABEbooks.com. After Diane moved to Georgia, Linda Cherry, Lucile’s daughter-in-law, continued to keep the on-line inventory updated as well as ordering books and magazines for their customers, some local, some who come from all over Florida or from as far away as Alaska. Some even drop in from Europe and Asia.
But no matter where they hail from, customers find the Old Book Store a very interesting place. Lucile is very appreciative of the support The Old Book Store has received – it has been, and still is, a pleasure to have a business in Madison.