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Examiner
  • Westport bookstore owner buys shop in Blue Springs

  • Beginning Friday and lasting through Sunday, Parkside Books, 208, N. Missouri 7, will officially celebrate its grand reopening as Prospero’s Parkside Books. An accompanying tent sale will offer thousands of titles for as little as $1 for paperbacks and $2 for hardbacks.

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  • What would a city like Blue Springs be without a good book store?
    Will Leathem, co-owner of Prospero’s Books in Kansas City, can’t imagine such a thing – and he certainly couldn’t imagine a city like Blue Springs without the kind of book store he and another owner will be reopening on Friday.
    “The people I’ve met here in Westport have ties to the Blue Springs area, and throughout the years they have been asking us to move out to the area,” Leathem said. “They’ve kept telling us, ‘You’ve got to move out to Blue Springs, you have to.’”
    They got their wish.
    Beginning Friday and lasting through Sunday, Parkside Books, 208, N. Missouri 7, will officially celebrate its grand reopening as Prospero’s Parkside Books. An accompanying tent sale will offer thousands of titles for as little as $1 for paperbacks and $2 for hardbacks.
    Half of the money raised this weekend will benefit two regional non-profits: Write the Future and Hope House.
    Leathem showed interested in the store in April after he received word that one of the owners at the Blue Springs store was retiring.
    Opening the Westport location in1997, Leathem was familiar with not only the Eastern Jackson County area but also its people, many of whom traveled the half hour to the store and encouraged him to someday open another.
    Significant changes have already been made to the Blue Springs store, including a new layout, improved lighting and an open space that will accommodate events. The new store will also sell used movies (DVD and VHS) and music.
     In the past, Parkside Books only traded with customers, but Leathem said there will be more effort to purchase merchandise from the public.
    Since 1997, Leathem has hosted 800 live music shows  at the Kansas City store and hundreds of book signings – two concepts that draw people in and form a community.
    So in the fall, Prospero’s Parkside will be the site of a First Friday series of in-store art openings and live music. A full schedule of such events is forthcoming, Leathem said.
    For Beth King, the reopening is a dream come true.
    “The store was up for sale last year, but last January wasn’t a good time to try and sell anything,” she said.
    A co-owner since 2006, King had no idea how the situation would be resolved. Then Leathem approached her and saw potential in the store and surrounding area.
    “I offered to co-manage with him and we went from there,” she said. “I knew there was potential in the store.”
    Since the arrangement was finalized, both owners worked to scale down inventory. King realized that she had many books no one was interested in buying.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We really took stock of what was here and started focusing on what people want, which we found out was history books,” she said. “There will be a much bigger selection of history.”
    In addition to history, categories in fiction, spirituality, poetry, biography and science fiction will be expanded.
    “This is good news,” she said. “You know how it is when a dream comes true?”
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