For about 18 months, The Dollar Book Exchange has popped up monthly in a warehouse in north Raleigh.
Drawing book lovers from across the region, the three-day sale features a giant selection - more than 100,000 used books - at incredibly low prices. Every book - paperback or hardback - is just $1 from the shelves. Huge rummage bins filled with children's books sit on the floor. From those, you can fill up a bag, which the sale provides and can fit as many as 70 books, and pay just $10.
It's become a favorite for readers, families, schools, students and day care centers. The sale offers all genres of books - including children's books (on the shelves and in those big bins); travel; self-help; religious; cookbooks; fiction; non-fiction; parenting; and textbooks for grade schoolers and up. The next sale is set for this Friday through Sunday.
The sale is the offshoot of an online book-selling business, which originally started in Siler City. Once it moved to Raleigh in 2014, the exchange has grown, said Diana Graham, managing partner, who joined the business officially about a month ago.
You might remember my earlier post about Graham, a Raleigh mom of two, psychiatrist and president of Bonnie's Book Foundation. Graham's foundation is part of the collaborative group WAKE Up and Read, which gathers books for needy children in Wake County and distributes them.
Bonnie's Book Foundation is named after Graham's late mother, who was a tutor and passionate about literacy. The group holds book drives and takes part in other efforts to encourage literacy at a young age.
Graham got involved with the sale as a shopper when she walked in and was amazed by the selection. She talked to the owner, Ford Perry, about her work. She began trading volunteer labor for book donations. They're working out the details, but Graham's work with the Dollar Book Exchange will lead to more book donations for kids who need something to read.
"We want to support literacy efforts," Graham tells me.
The sale is definitely designed for shoppers who love the hunt. Don't expect a cozy, climate-controlled book shop here where you can buy the latest bestsellers.
Instead, you'll find a cavernous warehouse, home also to Michael and Sons, off Atlantic Avenue in Raleigh. Books are shelved based on genre and very loosely alphabetized. In the fiction section, for instance, you'll find books written by authors with last names that start with P, Q or R mixed up together on the same shelf. On the children's book side, popular series such as Harry Potter, Goosebumps and Lemony Snicket are grouped together.
The large rummage bins, where you can fill a bag for $10, include lots of Scholastic picture books, Golden Books, early readers and even some toys and puzzles.
"You just never know what you might find," Graham said.
A big selection of textbooks, designed for grade schoolers and up, sits on pallets on the floor.
"This is definitely a browsers' paradise," Graham said. "A lot of people have a really good time ... if you don't mind the hunt."
If you go, Graham shares a few tips with shoppers:
- Check the sale's Facebook page to get the latest on store hours, parking, the schedule and other logistics.
- Bags are provided for the bins of children's books, but you might want to bring your own bags for books you select from the shelves.
- Kids are welcome, but parents and caregivers will need to keep an eye on them. This is a warehouse, after all, with tall shelves holding a lot of books. It covers about 5,000 square feet of space.
- Cash and credit cards are accepted
- You can trade in old books for credit toward purchases at the sale. Two books that the sale can put on its shelves will get you $1 in credit. You can bring in your books during the sale and use the credit now or at a future sale. The sale also pays cash for some textbooks.
- Bathrooms are available. Graham was bringing in a changing table this week.
- If you're looking to beat the crowds: Friday is the most crowded. Saturday also is busy, but a bit slower. And Sunday is the quietest.
"We do restock all during the weekend," said Graham, who said some shoppers come all three days.
This weekend's sale is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. It's at 4001 Atlantic Ave. in Raleigh in the back of the Michael and Sons warehouse. The sale received a big shipment of Disney-themed activity books, which include crayons or watercolors. They'll be on sale for $1 each. The sale will donate one for each one purchased. (These would make great activities for upcoming summer road trips).