ROGERS – After moving nearly 800 boxes of books around 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 on Tuesday.
“He was very busy,” said Arleen Doyle, who schedules the volunteers. “We had a wonderful day.”
The new location, which previously housed the Palmer Violin Shop, is more than twice the size of the bookstore’s previous space at 401 N. Second St., according to volunteer Leeanna Walker.
Volunteers hope the location will attract new customers and allow the nonprofit bookstore to offer more to the community, Walker said.
There is a room that can be reserved for individual 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 space allows volunteers and clients to maintain social distance if necessary, she said.
The store also hopes to work with community partners to host 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.
Friendly Bookstore is still operated by the group, which donates proceeds from used book sales to help fund the library’s programs and services. Some members volunteer at the store.
The amount of money given to the library varies from year to year based on the library’s needs, Walker said.
In 1992, the Friends purchased the land at 711 S. Dixieland Road, where the library is located today, for the city.
In 2021, the bookstore awarded approximately $25,000 in grants to the library for staff and community resources, according to Hannah Milligan, library director.
Friends funds pay for the library’s summer reading program, staff travel to conferences, computers for public use, and online resources like LinkedIn Learning.
“There are a lot of things we offer our community that we couldn’t offer without them,” Milligan said. “They are an invaluable resource.”
The bookstore has also donated books to Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods, disaster relief efforts and events with civic clubs.
The store’s volunteers helped libraries affected by the Joplin, Missouri, tornado in 2011 and the Arkansas River flood in 2019, Walker said.
“After the Joplin tornado, their school library was so badly damaged that we sent books there,” he said.
Some of the store’s 73 volunteers have been helping out for years. Walker and Doyle have been in the store for about seven years.
The store could use more help, especially from people who can direct the staff on any given day, according to Walker.
“We’re looking for younger people to volunteer,” he said, adding that the group could use more men.
With more volunteer leaders, the bookstore will be able to stay open six hours instead of four hours a day and more easily cover Saturdays, he said.
Walker and Doyle agreed to talk to regulars and volunteers, seeing the kids enjoying 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.
Friendly Bookstore offers readers a variety of books they can afford, Walker said.
“We don’t intend to take the place of Barnes & Noble,” he said. “We make owning and reading affordable.”
The Friendly Bookstore is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm at 1114 W. Poplar Place.