Meet Your Merchant: Doing something she loves
Shasta Mathews, who co-owns Carson City’s Dog Eared Books, said she likes to have a book nearby at all times.
Reading, she said, “is in the family genes.”
Mathews, who used to work for a local grocery store, bought the book store in August 2008 with her aunt, Susan Hoffman, an English teacher at Carson Middle School.
“I’ve been a longtime customer,” Mathews said from behind the store’s counter, which is where she keeps the business mascot: a dachshund named Daphne. “There’s nothing like doing something you love.”
The store is filled with bookshelves stacked from floor to ceiling with popular paperbacks, largely fiction that includes mysteries, science fiction, romance, Westerns and young adult. The store was opened by Jim Wagner 16 years ago.
Mathews said business is steady, about 25 customers a day, despite a bad economy.
“It (reading) is cheap entertainment,” she said.
She said the most important factors to running a bookstore are customer service and knowing the authors she offers.
“You need these (customers), you learn what they read,” Mathews said. “You get feedback from them about the book and you learn … the more you listen the more you get to know the store.”
The store is organized by genre and then alphabetized by author, totaling 65,000 books displayed with more in storage.
The store’s inventory also changes on a daily basis as customers bring in paperbacks to trade for cash.
“We really depend on the customers bringing their books in,” Mathews said. “Variety is definitely key here.”
Mathews, a Carson City native, said she enjoys the calm atmosphere of the business and talking to customers who come into browse.
She hopes to one day expand the business into a bigger building, which would help Dog Eared Books display all of its inventory.
She said she also tries to attract more children to the bookstore – she has a 9-year-old daughter giving free books to children, “to keep them interested.”
As for the book industry, including the ubiquitous e-readers like the Kindle, Mathews said it’s “nerve-racking, but people still want to read a book and turn a page … people also love the smell of books.”
Also, friends can’t give each other used e-readers, Mathews said.
“(Books) are going to be around,” she said. “This is a good business still.”