Toys, books will come together in Literary Bookpost location
SALISBURY — Toys and games will take center stage at Literary Bookpost when Just the Thing moves in this week.
The two businesses are merging, and the bookstore at 110 S. Main St. is making way for Just the Thing’s educational games, gadgets and gizmos in a central area on the first floor, as well as throughout the 7,000-square-foot store.
Although the businesses will combine operations starting Oct. 1, each will retain its own name for at least a year, owners said.
Some bookstore customers were concerned when the Literary Bookpost started clearing out the center of the store, co-owner Bill Greene said. But the Bookpost will only become stronger with the merger, he said.
The center of the store will house a large selection of Just the Thing inventory, while the perimeter will feature the Literary Bookpost’s products.
“You put your best-selling stuff where it makes sense,” Greene said.
Young adult novels have moved to the mezzanine, making more space for games and toys in the basement alongside children’s books, co-owner Gwen Matthews said.
“I’m a team player, so I never really wanted it to be just me in the store,” Matthews said. “… I kept looking for a unique business that could come in and really complement the books.”
Matthews said they’ve been preparing for the merger for months, and merchandise from both businesses will be interspersed throughout the shop.
“Just the Thing will be very incorporated in the whole store, not just in one spot,” she said. “We want it to look like she’s been here for years.”
Glenda Dyson, owner of Just the Thing, said Greene approached her repeatedly about merging their businesses, which made sense.
“A lot of what we sell is not just for kids,” Dyson said. “Teens and adults like to play games too.”
Dyson, Matthews and Greene will have an equal, three-way partnership, Dyson said.
Deal Safrit and Sheila Brownlow, who founded the Literary Bookpost, still have some ownership in the bookstore as well. Greene said he continues to buy out their interest.
The merger will give Just the Thing more space, up from 1,500 square feet in its current location at 103 N. Main St. Like the Literary Bookpost’s book signing events, Dyson said she plans to offer game nights and workshops for parents and teachers.
Dyson, who opened Just the Thing with husband Barry Dyson in 2007, has been renting space from property owner Lane Yates.
“I hate for there to be another empty building in downtown — it’s my passion,” she said. “But I have to do what’s best for the business.”
Just the Thing will close Saturday and reopen Oct. 1 in the new location.
“I’m scared and worried and I dread the move, but it’s going to be so nice to have a partner and have vacation every now and then,” Dyson said. “We have a lot of the same customers.”
Dyson, who does not carry books, said she regularly refers people who come in her shop looking for a children’s books to Literary Bookpost. Matthews said the same about Just the Thing.
Bringing on Dyson’s inventory and her skill as a retailer will bolster the Literary Bookpost, Greene said.
“Our challenge is not only to have the best books, but the way we thrive and make money is to have sidelines — new and exciting things to complement the bookstore,” said Greene, who recently left Wells Fargo Bank, where he was market president.
Greene said he admired Dyson’s dedication and passion while they worked together on the Downtown Salisbury Inc. board. The merger will double revenues for the businesses, he said, and free Matthews and Dyson to work together “to aim for the next level.”
“There are a lot of lone wolves on Main Street, people trying to do it by themselves,” he said.
By bringing the businesses under one roof, Matthews and Dyson — who will run the shop — can collaborate and support each other, Greene said.
He also owns Greene Rock LLC with his family, a development company that he said has new ventures in the works and is helping to launch Lee Street Theatre, which is expected to open a new performing arts center at 329 N. Lee St. this fall.