On Sept. 14, Square Books and the Oxford community celebrated 40 years of Square Books with the grand opening of a new location, Rare Square Books.
Square Books is a vaunted Oxford institution. It’s welcomed authors, musicians, politicians, and everyone that falls in between, through its swinging glass door. On Saturday, they celebrated 40 years of service to the community, culminating in the grand opening of a new store: Rare Square Books.
Owners Richard and Lisa Howorth had already faced many challenges, from securing a loan to trying to find a building to open the store in.
“The property just didn’t turn over very much,” Richard Howorth said.
The original location of Square Books was the second story of the building where Square Books Jr. is now located, and in the same location where the new store, Rare Square Books, is set to open.
At that time, the majority of the businesses on the Square were small, family-owned and had been there for a long time. However, the Howorths bought the upstairs of the building. From there, Square Books was born.
Richard Howorth said that he was surprised but excited that Square Books would be opening a fourth location.
“Even when I went in (the original upstairs store), my attitude was that if I could even make it work at all in that location… I knew people would be interested and supportive,” Richard Howorth said.
With the opening of the fourth store, the Square Books stores will span 12,000 square feet all together.
Pushback from the community in the creation of the Howorths’ small empire has been practically nonexistent, according to Richard Howorth.
“Occasionally, people will tease me a little bit about it,” Richard Howorth said. “But, you know, the truth is when people use the word ‘empire,’ I say, ‘yeah, King of Overhead,’ because this is not the most economical way to do business.”
Richard Howorth said that if he were given the opportunity to start over, that he would want to look for a space under one roof. However, having different locations for each part of the business has allowed them to have their own identities.
By hosting over 100 signings a year, Square Books has become a well-known point on the literary map, attracting a range of writers to Oxford and has been growing from day one. That growth has all lead up to the 40th anniversary and the grand opening of Rare Square Books.
The celebration had events for all ages. In Square Books, free posters were included with every purchase, and entry in a raffle. Customers were also encouraged to write about their first memory of Square Books.
Around the Square at Square Books Jr., Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat made a special appearance to read the very first Curious George book to visitors. Square Books Jr. was crowded with children and their parents all wanting to take pictures and listen to the story.
One of those children was Vee Flora, age 2 and a half, who had been coming to Square Books with his family since he was 1. He was with his grandmother, Laurie Flora, and said that his favorite part of Square Books was getting to meet Curious George.
After the event in Square Books Junior, customers were encouraged to head upstairs and check out Rare Square Books. Although the space is small compared to the other three shops, it is still filled with books. The focus of the new space is first editions and rare copies of books that go all the way back into the 17th and 18th centuries.
With the opening of the new store, Square Books has truly come to embody the phrase on their website: “four stores on five floors in three buildings 100 feet apart on the historic Oxford, Mississippi town square.”