You only need to be in Jason McCrady’s presence for about five minutes before you catch on to his enthusiasm for what he does. His smile and the excitement in his voice say it all. You simply can’t help but root for him. Jason, and his wife Melissa are the J and the M in J and M’s Used Bookstore, which is in the midst of a major upgrade in floor-space as well as location. At the same time, it’s adding a second store in the same location called The Industry. It will specialize in games of many kinds, from card games to board games to role-playing games (RPG’s)—even jigsaw puzzles. Interestingly, the original plan was for Melissa to run the store, but her part-time, temporary job in her field of engineering became an offer of a permanent, full-time position, complete with benefits. So minding the store fell to Jason, something that couldn’t have worked out any better.
The increase in size is considerable. Their old store, located on Blizzard Drive just down the hill from Parkersburg South High School was a mere 1500 square feet, and that was after expanding into every other available shop in the tiny strip mall they occupied. And if you’ve ever been inside, you know they were maxed out. McCrady told me they decided to open after he and Melissa had taken a vacation in 2009. They realized that, without giving it much thought, they were travelling from town to town stopping in cozy little local used bookstores. They talked about how much they wanted to open something just like them in Parkersburg. So that’s exactly what they did in 2010, with 4500 books, doubling that number in just three months and tripling it in only six. And they just kept expanding from there until they simply couldn’t expand anymore.
Along with the inability to grow anymore, they were frustrated by the fact they couldn’t do some of the other things they wanted to do, like stock games, host game events, and allow local authors to come in for readings and signings. So two years ago, they started making plans and actively searching for a new location, finally locating just the place they needed in the Kroger/Kmart plaza on Division Street. The new shop will nearly double the size of the old one, coming in at a relatively massive 2800 square feet.
The size change was only half of the reason moving will work in the store’s favor, however. The other half is location. The old site was one of those places you didn’t just happen on. You had to be going there on purpose and, even then, you often still couldn’t get there. If you tried to turn in going up the hill at the wrong time of day, it just wasn’t going to happen. And there was no such thing as foot traffic, something that will definitely change in the large, heavily travelled plaza to which they’re relocating. McCrady said he counted more people passing by the store in three hours on the first day he was there working than they typically saw in an entire day at the original store.
The larger space will obviously allow them to carry many more books, but more than that, they will soon have an entire second store called The Industry, which will carry nearly every game-related product imaginable for sale or rent. Rentals prices will be ten percent of the cost of buying the game, so you can take the game home to try it out, and if you like it, you can come back and buy it with the rental cost taken off the purchase price. Possibly the most exciting element, though, is that the back of the store will have tables and seating for 30, allowing people to come in, pay a flat fee, and play any games in the store for as long as they want. They intend to use the seating space to host events as well, such as weekly RPG games, game demonstrations, and Saturday Night Life, game nights aimed at teens but open to families as well.
Another thing that is obvious about McCrady is how positive a person he is. He sees this as more than a business. He and his wife Melissa view the store as an opportunity to have a positive impact on the community. Toward that end, he emphasized to me that he will be carrying only family-friendly games, with nothing adult or obscene available.
The new location celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, June 11. The following Saturday was Free RPG Day. This event, much like Free Comic Book Day, was just what it sounds like. People came in and picked up free game decks and other RPG-related products. June 25, the store hosted none other than yours truly. My author day was one of many that J and M’s plan to have in the coming months. So, if you’re looking for some great books at bargain prices or would like to try out a new game, this is exactly the place for you.