Bibliophile promotes Shop Local ideal · Debbie Lane

You know how wonderful it feels to pick up a book and not even notice how much time has past since you’ve been standing by the shelf or settled into a cozy chair (maybe even sitting on the floor) as you read just a few more pages. OK, a few more chapters.

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Debbie Lane opened the original Bookshelf in 1992, and is now planning to retire and is looking for a buyer for the business.

You understand the joy of pouring over titles. You stop at independent bookstores. You know that “Staff Picks” are a reliable seal of approval and, chances are high, you like sharing recommendations with other avid readers.

You know all this and so does Debbie Lane. She has always loved books and reading, so it’s no surprise when the small business owner says, “My whole life has been The Bookshelf.”

What does surprise me is the massive inventory packed into her small store in Truckee. Though The Bookshelf places special orders, Lane takes pride in having variety in the store. When I pop in a few days before Thanksgiving, Lane’s desk is covered with papers and she’s choosing titles for her next order – another surprise since the store will be sold or close by the end of next month.

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The Bookshelf: A brief history
“It’s been a great ride,” says Lane of her last 23 years. Hailing from New Hampshire, Lane worked in book sales and managed the Toadstool Bookshop for two years before heading west with her husband and twin 12-year-old sons in 1991. Her goals included offering the community a store with a knowledgeable and well-read staff plus a collection rich in regional titles, local authors and illustrators, as well as recreation and nature guides. She successfully filled a void in town.

“What’s New from Carol,” a frequent e-newsletter with staff member Carol Hicks’ picks, is hugely popular and consistently drives sales. Hicks has been with The Bookshelf since 2003. Her favorites along with other staff picks are posted on The Bookshelf’s Web site.

Lane opened the original store called Bookshelf at Hooligan Rocks in 1992. Curious about the name? The store was located near the boulders where Truckee’s 601 Vigilante Committee (6 feet under, zero questions asked and one bullet) used to tar and feather hooligans near the present-day Safeway shopping center. Shortly thereafter Lane opened a Tahoe City location (which has since closed).

The Bookshelf’s current address on Donner Pass Road is tucked in the corner a few steps from the popular Wild Cherries cafe. It has been The Bookshelf’s home since 2013, and in the fall of 2013 students from Truckee High School organized a “Save the Shelf” campaign. The successful campaign raised awareness of the new location and increased sales at the independently owned and operated store.

In my brief conversation with Lane, the sincerity and power of the often-heard Shop Local message couldn’t be stronger. She challenges us to consider what we would do without The Bookshelf and what historic Truckee or Tahoe City would be like without all of the wonderful, locally owned stores. Though she doesn’t take much time away from work, Lane enjoys the local art scene including Concerts at Commons Beach, art tours and Truckee Thursdays.

 

Local picks
Stocking stuffers, big gifts (think amazing picture books) and everything in between are available. Stopping by to browse and talk with staff could be the best way to check off most of your holiday shopping in just one stop, and if you’re out of town or shipping to those who are, free shipping may be available on your purchase (note free media shipping in the comment section for online orders).

As far as local history, Lane recommends “Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West” by Ethan Rarick, Mark McLaughlin’s “Sierra Stories,” Joanne Meschery’s “Truckee” and “Walking through Donner Summit History” by Bill Oudegeest, plus any one of the many photographic histories of Tahoe and Truckee.

 

On the block
Expect discounts in January 2016, but don’t count on any best sellers or staff picks on the sales racks. Lane encourages holiday shopping and using gift cards. Despite the resurgence of support for independent bookstores, The Bookshelf is for sale: $55,000 plus inventory ($120,000 worth of inventory when Lane and I met in late November). Dickson Realty is representing The Bookshelf. Learn more by calling Karen Norris at (530) 386-8388.

“We do make money,” retiring Lane promises interested buyers. “It’s been a great ride.”

What’s next for her? Travelling east to be with family and returning for Tahoe summers.

 

The Bookshelf is located at 11429 Donner Pass Road in Truckee. For more information, visit bookshelfstores.com or call (530) 582-0515.

 

Story & photos by Nicole Cheslock