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Couple lives a storybook life

It’s a story that belongs in a slightly used paperback novel – two people meet while working at a small, private college. Electricity fills the air. After two weeks of dating, they become engaged. It takes another two weeks for wedding bells to ring.
“He told his boss ‘I’m going to get married. I might be a little late for lunch,’” said Lori Jones, wife of Richard Jones and co-owner of North State Books.
That marriage took place 16 years ago in Charlotte’s court house. The couple has spent the past 15 years as the proud owners of the used book shop, which now sits across from the Lincoln County Courthouse in downtown Lincolnton.
It’s taken a lot of hard work over the years to keep their business alive.
“The days of the small book shops are passing,” said Richard.
That said, life at the couple’s store is going just fine. In fact, the book shop is due for an expansion any day now.
“It’s an ongoing project that depends on my back,” said Richard.
The couple has the business divided in two. Richard is in charge of the actual shop, which is crammed with every kind of book imaginable.
“We have everything except for what a Baptist wife won’t let you have,” he said.
His wife is in charge of selling their inventory over the Internet. The self employed couple who met in an unsatisfying work environment are happy to now be working for themselves.
“I like being self employed,” said Lori. “If I worked for someone else, I would definitely be fired right now.”
The freedom of owning her own business allowed Lori to care for her ailing mother in Alabama for the past month and a half. It has also lets the couple attend book shows and go on trips when they choose.
“You can take off,” said Richard. “Of course, it’s not a paid vacation. You don’t have sick days.”
Books and the business of selling them started out as Richard’s passion. Being surrounded by books all day only encourages his reading further.
“It’s an escape, an escape from reality, an escape from stress, and I also have good intentions of learning stuff about gardening and fixing up my house,” he said. “I may not do it, but I can read about it. I can fool my wife.”
Richard developed a love of books as a child, taking after his bookworm father.
“When I was a kid I used to tote my father’s books around the neighborhood in a little red wagon and sell them,” he said.
Always a bookseller, he urges people to come visit his shop while the weather’s still cold.
“We’ve got a winter sale – buy your books cheaper than logs,” he said.
Besides the expansion, the couple’s plans for the future include having a bookstore cat. They have both decided their cat, Growl, would not be an appropriate choice.
“She has an attitude,” explained Lori.
The couple also hopes to make room in the shop for Lori. Her Internet business is a key component to the couple’s cash flow.
“People don’t realize the book store is like any other business. You do have to cater to the customer,” said Lori. “It looks quaint and everything, but you’ve got to put a lot of work into it to make it successful.”
by Sarah Grano

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