ROGERS — After moving nearly 800 boxes of books across town, the Friendly Bookstore is settling into its fourth and largest location yet.
Customers were welcomed into the new space at 1114 W. Poplar Place for the first time Tuesday.
“It was very busy,” said Arleen Doyle, who schedules volunteers. “We had a wonderful day.”
The new location, which formerly housed the Palmer Violin Shop, is more than twice the size of the bookstore’s previous space at 401 N. Second St., according to Leeanna Walker, a volunteer.
Volunteers hope the location will draw new customers and allow the nonprofit bookstore to offer more to the community, Walker said.
There is a room that can be reserved for one-on-one tutoring and another for small book club meetings. A small space with a stage could host readings and children’s programs with library staff in the future. More room allows volunteers and customers to social-distance if necessary, she said.
The store also hopes to work with community partners to throw more events like last year’s Brewtastic Book Fair with Ozark Beer Co., Walker said.
The Friends of the Rogers Public Library opened the bookstore in 1984 at 200 W. Poplar St. to provide financial support for the library.
The library has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the group over the years, according to the bookstore’s website.
The Friendly Bookstore is still operated by the group, which donates the proceeds from the sales of used books to help fund library programs and services. Some members work as volunteers in the store.
The amount of money given to the library varies from year to year based on what the library needs, Walker said.
In 1992, the Friends acquired the land at 711 S. Dixieland Road, where the library is today, for the city.
In 2021, the bookstore provided approximately $25,000 in grants to the library for community and staff resources, according to Hannah Milligan, library director.
Funds from the Friends pay for the library’s summer reading program, staff trips to conferences, computers for public use and online resources like LinkedIn Learning.
“There are a lot of things we offer for our community that we wouldn’t be able to offer without them,” Milligan said. “They’re an invaluable resource.”
The bookstore also has given books for Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods, disaster relief efforts and events with civic clubs.
Volunteers from the store helped libraries impacted by the Joplin, Mo., tornado in 2011 and the Arkansas River flood in 2019, Walker said.
“After the Joplin tornado, they had so much damage to their school library, we sat books up there,” she said.
Some of the 73 volunteers at the store have been helping for years. Walker and Doyle have both been at the store for about seven years.
The store could use more help, especially from individuals who can lead the staff throughout a given day, according to Walker.
“We’re looking for younger people to volunteer,” she said, adding the group could use more men.
With more lead volunteers, the bookstore will be able to remain open six hours instead of four hours a day and more easily cover Saturdays, she said.
Walker and Doyle agreed to talk to regular customers and volunteers, seeing children enjoy the books and helping the library makes the volunteer experience worthwhile.
“I like to think that our name is what we try to present to the public all the time. We present a friendly face,” Doyle said.
The Friendly Bookstore offers readers a variety of books they can afford, Walker said.
“We don’t pretend to take the place of Barnes & Noble,” she said. “We make owning and reading affordable.”
The Friendly Bookstore is open 11 am to 3 pm Tuesday through Saturday at 1114 W. Poplar Place.