Moving to downtown location ‘much better fit’ for Codex Books; owner plans to offer breakfast, lunch menu

Codex Books owners

Jennifer Tournear is the general store manager for Codex Books, and Alex Craig is the majority owner of the bookstore in the former Kirlin's Hallmark building at 532 Maine in Quincy. | David Adam

QUINCY — Alex Craig is much happier now that his bookstore has moved downtown.

Codex Books opened Oct. 1 in the former Kirlin’s Hallmark building at 532 Maine after first moving in May 2021 into the Quincy Books and Toys location next to Hobby Lobby, 3800 Broadway, in the Quincy Commons Shopping Center.

“Why not move downtown?” Craig said. “Downtown is a much better fit for what we’re wanting in terms of a bookstore. The vibe’s generally better. Being next to big box stores at the Quincy Commons was not doing us any favors. Down here, we’re at a high-visibility, high-profile location, especially because the Kirlin’s building was a staple of Quincy for the longest time.”

The Kirlin’s building has been empty since 2017. Craig is leasing the building from 532 Maine LLC, owned by William Duryea.

Craig, originally from Palmyra, Mo., likes to use the phrase “certified pre-owned” instead of “used” when describing some books available at his store. Also available are new books on the New York Times bestsellers list and popular children’s fiction books.

“Our used books are a fantastic deal,” he said. “We sell them for at most half of the (original) retail cost, and we only take them in new or like-new condition. It’s like getting a new book for half the price.”

Many of the books were locally owned, and customers will bring their books to the store to sell.

“We do some auction and estate sale-type stuff, but most all of them come from this region,” Craig said.

The time spent in the Quincy Commons helped Craig accumulate information about his customers, helping convince him to make the move downtown.

“The unfortunate thing when buying a business from someone else is you’re stuck inheriting whatever they were doing with inventory and in terms of leases and things like that,” he said. “Having been there for a little more than a year, we got some solid data to base some decisions off. We learned our customer demographics, which days of the week do better, how we’re getting customers where they’re coming from and how they respond to our marketing. 

“We found it just wasn’t working at that location, and in our research, we found the demographic we’re looking for tends to shop in more historical downtown-type districts. We were very fortunate to find we were able to strike a good deal with the new landlords, and our rent is a lot cheaper.”

With more than 5,300 square feet available (encompassing the store, two storerooms and a proposed kitchen), Craig plans to expand what Codex Books offers — pending some plumbing work and an inspection by the Adams County Health Department.

“One of the things we had at our old store was our bubble tea and coffee bar, which we haven’t fully been able to transfer yet,” Craig said. “Once we get that up and running, we can expand that service. We didn’t have room at the old place for anything more than the refrigerator, but now we have plenty of room. We can start doing the bursting bubble tea and real fruit and bubble teas.”

Craig also wants to offer breakfast and lunch for downtown visitors.

“Being down here, we’ve noticed is there’s not really a good lunch spot downtown, especially for quick grab-and-go options,” he said. “There are others that are more of a time sit-down, take-your-time situation. What we’re looking for is a quick sandwich and a salad. You can get in and out in 30 minutes, or you can take it back to your office downtown.”

Codex Books has 10 employees, and once the food service is available, Craig says the staff would expand.

Craig, who also owns a healthcare services company, got into the book-selling business because he learned the owners of Quincy Books and Toys wanted to retire and sell — but they had no buyers.

“I just felt terrible that Quincy was going to lose a bookstore,” he said. “Now we are very happy to be downtown. This is a much better fit. This space is a much better fit. The reception from the community has been good, and we’ve been very happy to hear the feedback.”

Codex Books is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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