Tucked into a small strip mall on Gray Street lies the only locally owned, used books-and-trade store in Norman.
When customers enter the store, they are immediately met with an old, musty smell of books that melds with the vintage interior of the store. Gray Street Books is a one-room bookstore, filled with wooden bookshelves containing an abundance of genres that include romance, westerns and classic literature.
Customers walk around the store browsing through the bookshelves, while Kelly Trent, the new owner of the store, works behind the counter, stocking books from boxes and greeting customers as they pass by.
Trent is a New Mexico native and teacher. She previously owned a bookstore in Chickasha, Oklahoma, called The Bookstore on the Corner for 20 years. She originally closed it because she was tired of working in the business.
“I sold it, and then I decided I couldn’t live without a bookstore, so I reopened this one,” Trent said.
Linda Felder, a longtime customer of Trent's stores, said she looks forward to what the future will bring for the new store.
“It was always a treat to go to Kelly’s old store,” Felder said. “We would go home with a truck load, so we’re very excited for the new store.”
Trent said Gray Street Books is a lot like her old store — it is a trade-store format, which means customers can bring books in and can get half the price of what the store charges. Kids up to 18 years old receive any of the books for free, as well.
There are around 40 genres offered within the store, including a wider selection of romance than the store had before. The store also includes a literature section that caters to English majors and anyone who likes to read, Trent said.
“We have a little bit of everything, and we try to keep our prices lower than Half Price Books, and stuff,” said Sarah Tavor, a former employee of The Bookstore on the Corner and current sales associate at Gray Street Books.
Tavor has known and worked for Trent for 12 years and said she hopes the new store becomes a designated place for people to come and find books for a good price.
“It will help everybody who still (likes) having a book in their hand,” Tavor said. “And since we’re a trade-in store, it gives people a place to bring their books in. It’s a good place to recycle.”
Gray Street Books is currently the only locally owned used bookstore in Norman. Other bookstores in town are chains — Barnes & Noble on Ed Noble Parkway and Mardel Christian & Education on Main Street.
“(Used) bookstores are repositories of learning that are significantly more important than the antiqueness of books,” said Todd Fuller, curator for OU Libraries Western History Collection. “They create ambience and atmosphere where a shared love of learning is felt by many people.”
Trent said she hopes to provide to a new generation of readers while maintaining the historical significance the store provides for the community.
“Making people happy, finding authors they like and new authors, it is really rewarding, and a lot of kids don’t even own a book, so this way, a kid can come in and start their own library,” Trent said.
Gray Street Books is at 300 W. Gray St. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and is closed on Sunday and Monday.