Sweet message outside of a small bookstore in Wheeling, West Virginia.
More info about the bookstore
The Paradox Bookstore is located at the Centre Market in Wheeling, WV. This eclectic used bookstore is actually the oldest used bookstore in West Virginia. It was opened by Tom Stobart 35 years ago when he was just seventeen and a young playwright. He can still be found behind the low counter reading and smoking as if time has forgotten him and he could care less. As you walk up the few steps to the small store, you’ll notice that he stocks a bookshelf built into the wall right outside. There is a sign posted with wording to the effect that anyone needing a book may take one and pay later, exchange a book for a book or just take a book with no payment if you are in dire circumstances but with a desire to read. There is also a sign stating the store’s hours which in a witty and almost poetic way convey the simple fact that they can change like the wind. But Tom’s there everyday I’ve stopped by and his hours seem to be better than most stores of this or that type. Anyway, as you meander into the store passing over the creaky, uneven wood floors through the few narrow aisles of towering books with a hello from Tom; you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world. The deliciously musty smell of used books coupled with the classical music or show tunes that are bound to be playing from what I’m pretty sure is a turn table will enchant you as will the warm glow from the lamps scattered about and stools/oddities that serve as seating. The books are placed in sections but there is no rhyme or reason within the sections which is simply fantastic. You may go in with the hope of finding something vaguely particular but those hopes will soon be replaced by the ecstasy of finding unsought jewels and new wonders that you never knew existed. You’ll delight in the case of rare books guarded by a mythical squirrel. Or perhaps you’ll smile or blush a bit at the brimming magazine rack right by the counter of Playboys from every decade for the past 50 years or so. What little wall remains that is not covered by bookshelves reveals theater posters. Most paperbacks only cost $1 or even less, an expensive book in this store is around $4-5. There are also some records for sale usually which are around $1-2 each. Cash is the currency, perhaps a check from a trusted customer from time to time. It’s a great place to spend a couple hours searching, reading, listening to music and enjoying the moment. Perhaps you’ll run into a talkative customer and spark up a lively conversation, or chat with Tom for a bit. Afterwards, there is the Centre Market with its historic fish market, beautiful architecture, antique stores, art gallery, pie shop, soup shop, coffee shop, wine shop, salon, crepe restaurant, Towngate Theatre, Goodwill just around the corner and nearby rail trail – you can spend a very full day in this area and Paradox would be the cherry. So visit because the oldest bookstore in West Virginia won’t be there forever and that day may be sooner than we would all like since from a recent conversation with the proprietor, business has not been good and Tom may have to shut his doors by springtime 2011 if things keep up the way they have been going for him. Please support the Paradox, a truly unique and delightful shop.