Whenever Jim Havener went out of town, he always brought something back for Michele Barry at the Green Toad Bookstore.
“He’d come in and say, ‘I stopped in the cutest little bookstore and they did this…’,” she said. “It showed me he was interested and in touch with what works in a business.”
It was that interest that inspired her to ask him about buying The Green Toad, the Main Street bookstore that’s become a downtown mainstay since she opened it in November 2008. “The community was thirsty for something like this, and we created a comfortable environment for readers,” she said. “We created a culture that didn’t otherwise exist in this community.”
And on Tuesday, Nov. 11, Havener started his first day as the bookstore’s new owner. “It’s like the first day of school,” he said. “That’s exactly how I feel. It’s exciting.”
In 2011, Barry began to think about retiring from the bookstore. “I started looking ahead to the future, when my daughter Jackie went off the college,” she said. “But it’s important to me that the store succeed, and we’ve got so many loyal, wonderful customers.”
Havener, a 1983 Cooperstown Graduate Program graduate, owner of the Furniture Doctor in Milford and the director of the Milford Historical Society, had been a customer of hers since the beginning. “I came in the first week,” he said. “I could come in and talk to her, or just come in to relax. Bookstores reflect the character of the people who run them, and that’s why this has become such a community-oriented place – because that’s who Michele is. I want to add to that.”
Havener has already begun adding his own personal touches, including a chair and a dresser to display hand-made jewelry and hats. “I restore furniture, so I want to add my home furnishings line,” he said. “I also want to introduce historic photography of the American vernacular, pictures of everyday life, and deepen the book selection. I read a lot of history and non-fiction.”
Gift cards and the Customer Loyalty program will remain in place, and much of the staff will continue to work there. “It will be the same, except Jim will add all his fabulous furnishings!” said Barry.
Barry will also continue to work at the store through the holiday season. “After that, the future is wide open,” she said. “I haven’t decided what I’ll do next.”
ONEONTA – The Green Toad Bookstore, which has become a downtown mainstay in the six years since its founding, has been sold to Jim Havener of Milford, proprietor Michele Barry announced today.
“Jim has been a customer and friend since the Green Toad opened,” Michele said. “He is a natural fit for the store with a background in museum studies and a love for history. He is gregarious, smart, and approachable.”
Havener, a Cooperstown Graduate Program graduate, has operate the Furniture Doctor, a furniture restoration operation in Milford, for the past 28 years. His wife, Jeanne-Marie, is director of Hartwick College’s nursing program.
Barry said much of the staff will remain in place.
In a letter to customers, she said, “Your staunch support has taught me the value of shopping local and the ripple effect is has in OUR economy. I have loved being a part of your lives.”