By Emily West, Correspondent
The McWha Book Store has now been open in historic downtown Belton for over five years, and has been contributing to the identity of the town in beautiful ways ever since its modest beginnings as Grisham’s Used Books across town.
“When we bought the inventory from the Grishams, we realized we would needed a bigger place, because we had books all over our house: they were practically pushing out of the windows,” reminisced Roxanne McWha fondly. “But we found this building, and it’s perfect. So, we filled it up.”
“This store has brought a lot to downtown Belton as part of the historic district, right down to the antique books,” McWha continued.
The store is part of the Downtown Belton Merchants Association (DBMA) and participates in the Market Days, held on the third Saturday of every month. “The Market days are nice: they barricade all the roads to downtown and vendors come in, and now that it’s getting into the warmer months, more and more people like to come out and walk around. It’s very friendly, and new vendors are always coming in.”
The Market Days are part of the DBMA’s strong, ongoing litany of hard work to support in the revitalization of Belton, especially in attracting consumers. “Every year business just keeps getting better and better,” McWha said. “Downtown is beginning to get more things going, slowly: the mayor said ‘baby steps.’ So, new things are coming–– new stores, maybe even new restaurants… All the businesses around here work together.”
Book lovers, students, and wanderers alike often cross the threshold into the cozy den of the shop, as the appeal of a good book does not seem to dwindle. “You’re looking at a computer all day, or an iPhone, and I think some people just want to get away. And our books are so cheap, so you don’t have to worry about getting it wet in the hot tub,” McWha said, beginning a tangent on book-accompanied relaxation. And that’s just what the store itself is to the community: a quiet retreat.
“We’re in the heart of Belton. It’s become a place where people love to just come in and walk through, have a look around. It’s part of this walking tour in downtown, and people can walk up here, away from the bustle of the music at the creek… We get everyone in here from young to old.”
As if to prove her point, a mother with four daughters in tow entered the store just as McWha’s sentence faded. “We practically live here,” said homeschooled sisters Carista and Amanda as they wandered through the Children’s Literature section of the store. “We love reading, and we basically have our own library at home.” The McWhas are only continuing to grow and improve their store, with Roxanne constantly searching for more space for her husband to build shelves.
“I’m always bugging him to squeeze in just one more,” she said. “That, and I just got a bunch of chairs today, so I’m putting them here and there so that people can come in and sit. A quiet getaway.” Additionally, it seems that sales aren’t the only use for books at McWha’s. “We donate books all the time, and we can because we have great customers,” McWha said.
The store donates duplicate books to hospital waiting rooms and to local charities such as Helping Hands and various homelessness outreaches.
For more information, or to pick up a tome of your own, visit the store at 114 E. Central Ave, or visit their website: www.mcwhabook.com.