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Book Tavern owner saw void in used books market in Augusta

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David Hutchison always knew he wanted to open a bookstore.

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David Hutchison, owner of The Book Tavern on Broad Street, also is an advocate for revitalizing downtown for businesses. "People have forgotten what it's like," he said of shopping within a community to boost its economy.  Sara Caldwell/Staff
Sara Caldwell/Staff
David Hutchison, owner of The Book Tavern on Broad Street, also is an advocate for revitalizing downtown for businesses. "People have forgotten what it's like," he said of shopping within a community to boost its economy.

The avid reader’s plan was to get a job with the State Department after college, work overseas and then retire to a cozy bookstore to enjoy a slower pace.

Shortly after 9/11, however, the face of international relations and foreign policy changed, and Hutchison decided it wasn’t how he wanted to spend his life.

In 2002, he moved to Augusta to be near family and tested out the used bookstore idea by selling books on the weekends at the Barnyard Flea Market on Doug Barnard Parkway.

“I felt like Augusta was underserved in the area of used bookstores,” he said. “There was room here for us.”

The Book Tavern, 1026 Broad St., trades used books, offering store credit for half the amount of what they will sell the books for. They sell some books online if there doesn’t seem to be much of a local demand, but it’s the interpersonal exchange that makes Hutchison love his job.

“I want to see it, touch it and get to know the people,” he said of his store.

The online sales have helped to keep the store afloat through the recession, but Hutchison is optimistic about how things will be after the economy balances out.

His average sales have dropped by half in the last few years but his revenue hasn’t decreased nearly that much, so he believes he has accumulated more customers.

“There is hope,” he said with a laugh. “I guess ‘stalled’ would be a good word.”

He opened his first shop on Eighth Street in 2004, and moved to his current location one year later.

He knew he wanted to stay downtown, and is a vocal advocate for the downtown renaissance.

“There seems to be a public perception that is more negative than it deserves,” he said of downtown. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

In the time he has been downtown, he has seen stores like Blue Magnolia, Vintage 965 and Garden City Organics close up shop. This has affected everyone else downtown, he said, and makes him less optimistic about how quickly downtown Augusta will experience a revival.

“Each time a retailer downtown closes, it means less foot traffic for the rest of the businesses,” he said.

The problem with downtown Augusta isn’t real estate or funding, he said. It’s that the idea of shopping within a community is now a foreign concept to many.

“People have forgotten what it’s like,” he said.

Zak Blixrude lives down the street from The Book Tavern and said the convenience of having a quality bookstore downtown has kept him coming back for more.

“This is definitely a business with a high acumen,” he said. “David is very current and he knows exactly what’s going on within his business.”

He also appreciates the local art and poetry journals Hutchison keeps in stock.

“It’s one of the only places around town you can get them,” Blixrude said.

The Book Tavern has many loyal customers and Hutchison said one of his favorite parts of being in business for himself is making sure those customers stay happy. The positive feedback he receives after tracking down a book for someone or recommending a book that a customer enjoys gives him assurance that there will always be a place for small, local businesses.

“I guess the dream is that someday I’ll be able to grow the business to where that’s all I have to worry about,” he said. “I get to focus on what I think is important.”

DAVID HUTCHISON

HOMETOWN: Aiken/Augusta area

FAMILY: Wife, Gabi Hutchison

EDUCATION: B.S. in International Relations from Rollins College

HOBBIES: Talking, reading, hunting for cool books

Comments (11) Add comment
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paperhearts
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paperhearts 11/27/11 - 09:07 pm
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The commenter must be

The commenter must be mistaken, I have never, neither have my abundance of friends and family that shop at Book Tavern, had a bad experience. Mr. Hutchison always is eager to conversate with all is customers. Also, it is very odd that you would know his tipping habits and even how much he spent on food, I am sure those reading can speculate one of two things: 1. you are a stalker or 2. you have a grudge because of some perceived wrongdoing (of course your attitude probably didn't have anything to do with that either). Shop at Book Tavern, Shop Local, and have a chat with the Employees there, they really are lovely.

burninater
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burninater 11/27/11 - 09:48 pm
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I don't know the BT staff's

I don't know the BT staff's tipping behaviors, but I agree I have only had positive, friendly, helpful experiences in their store.

crkgrdn
2287
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crkgrdn 11/28/11 - 09:56 am
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What a wonderful experience

What a wonderful experience The Book Tavern is for one who loves books.
Oh, and the folks who run that venerable shop make the visit all the more worthwhile.

seenitB4
93942
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seenitB4 11/28/11 - 10:10 am
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I will drop in the next time

I will drop in the next time I'm in town.....sounds great!

harrisburgresident
0
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harrisburgresident 11/28/11 - 10:56 am
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tipping or not.. can we just

tipping or not.. can we just all admit that the second photo of david is amazing. why so serious?

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 11/28/11 - 01:34 pm
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harrisburger, LOL!!

harrisburger, LOL!!

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 11/28/11 - 01:36 pm
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Take your pistol, seenit,

Take your pistol, seenit, just in case someone wants to make your day!

Chillen
17
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Chillen 11/28/11 - 02:09 pm
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Support LOCAL businesses

Support LOCAL businesses folks. It makes our economy stronger.

Brad Owens
4859
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Brad Owens 11/28/11 - 02:21 pm
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The negative reviews that I

The negative reviews that I see replies to are all gone.

I will tell you this. I have known David since he was setting up at the flea market and opened on 8th Street.

We all use to go out and eat and he would usually bring a big think hard bound book and read it the entire time.

I always try to stop in when I am in town and spend a little money if I can. He has some really interesting books and out of print items as well. Plus, if you tell him an obscure title, he will find it for you.

I wish he and Gabi well and hope that folks will shop local and support local owned and operated businesses like theirs.

Brad

booktavern
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booktavern 11/29/11 - 10:06 am
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Harrisburgresident, I was

Harrisburgresident, I was laughing so hard in most of the pictures so I told the photographer I would try really hard to make at least one serious face. Evidently, I look more constipated than anything else when I am serious...

seenitB4, we look forward to seeing you and don't worry about bringing a gun, but you can always buy one next door at United Loan and Firearm.

Brad, paperhearts, burninater, crkgrdn and chillen Thanks for the kind words. I don't know what happened to sour the negative guy, but I'm thinking it might be mistaken identity. Last night at Le Chat Noir a guy confused me for Porkchop, who also has a beard and glasses, but is about a foot shorter and far more talented.

seenitB4
93942
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seenitB4 11/29/11 - 10:15 am
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I have enough books to start

I have enough books to start my own store>>0)...no I'm not trying to run you out of business...my daughters tell me to get rid of some of them...UGH...they are like my babies...I know you would agree.. I might be packing.....but don't worry.....I never have shot a bookowner!!

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