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Archives Book Shop to close at the end of February, owner shares sentiments over closing

February 21, 2024
<p>Archives Book Shop in East Lansing set to close in the coming days. Some final documented memories, Wednesday, Jan. 21. Walsh shared his thoughts on his favorite books and favorite memories when surrounded by books. Walsh takes his art very seriously and inspires future generations as he has been in the business for over 35 years.</p>

Archives Book Shop in East Lansing set to close in the coming days. Some final documented memories, Wednesday, Jan. 21. Walsh shared his thoughts on his favorite books and favorite memories when surrounded by books. Walsh takes his art very seriously and inspires future generations as he has been in the business for over 35 years.

Photo by Emily Martin | The State News

Archives Book Shop, one of East Lansing’s bookstores, is set to close at the end of the month.

The bookstore sits on West Grand River attached to Tabooli and is expected to shut down in the next few weeks.

"I spent a number of years of my life here and I’m glad to be part of the community and then for the community support and the student support,” owner Ray Walsh said. “I’m gonna miss it.”

Walsh opened up Archives Book Shop in 1987 and doubled the size of it within a year. Walsh is also the owner of Curious Book Shop, which he opened when he was a student at MSU from 1967 to 1971 and earned a degree in communications. During his time at MSU, he was searching for science-fiction paperback books. A professor at the time reached out and offered Walsh 1,000 paperback books for $100. Walsh purchased them, read 700 of them and put the rest up for sale.

“All of a sudden I was a bookseller. I wasn't really planning on it,” said Walsh

Additionally, Walsh taught a science-fiction class. He said his students became his new reading group.

“They ended up being my best customers. I had stuff, and at that time was impossible to find places that were selling used paperbacks in science fiction,” Walsh said.

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Archives Book Shop in East Lansing set to close in the coming days. Some final documented memories, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2024. Despite the closing approaching, dedicated regular customers still came and continued their routine purchases with shop owner Ray Walsh.

Walsh also said he had no intention of opening up another bookstore after opening Curious Book Shop in the late 60’s. Walsh said he was driving by the location of Archives and saw there were bookshelves for sale, and upon closer inspection, he saw a For Rent sign. 

The name of the store was created from Walsh being asked questions at Curious Book Store, to which he would occasionally respond with “I’ll have to check our archives,” due to the large amount of storage in the Curious basement. 

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Archives Book Shop in East Lansing set to close in the coming days. Some final documented memories, Wednesday, Jan. 21. The meaning of books are different for everyone, but the object themselves are sacred, and to be handled with care. Knowledge is power!

He said the store has not had enough people coming in. Location has been an issue for Walsh. Curious Book Shop is in downtown East Lansing where there is more foot traffic for visitors and Archives does not get the traffic it needs to remain open. 

Another problem for Walsh was being required to close during COVID-19 since bookstores were not considered essential businesses. 

“Got a lot of rent to catch up on and I have a lot of stuff I've got to go through. One of the problems is that we've been accumulating a lot of things that I've gotten either bought or donated and haven’t had a chance to price it and put it on the shelves,” Walsh said.

Everything is currently half-off at the store before it is closed down. The store includes books, postcards, paintings, magazines and even a few yearbooks.

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Archives Book Shop in East Lansing set to close in the coming days. Some final documented memories, Wednesday, Jan. 21.

“We have here we have a number of fine bindings and rare books. And we also have 40,000 postcards that we haven't figured out what to do with plus a lot of different pieces of ephemera,” Walsh said.

After closing, the books will be sent off to different places and sold. A majority of the books will head over to Curious Book Shop, including the children’s books, fine bindings and the “better rare books.” Walsh said they also sell online on various websites including eBay, Amazon and Etsy. Walsh said they are donating books to “different organizations.”

“One of the things I'm going to miss is a lot of the interpersonal communication with a lot of the individuals who have been or become regular customers over the years,” Walsh said. “I know what they're looking for, and I save stuff for them and they come in and say ‘You got it.’ And that's part of the joy of being a bookseller is kind of filling collector's needs and wants.”

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