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Flip through the pages of one of Collingwood’s hidden gems

For this week’s edition of What’s Up Wednesday, we sat down with Shirley Marsden, owner of Read it Again New and Used Books and Comics
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Shirley Marsden in her store Read It Again New and Used Books and Comics on Hurontario Street. Jessica Owen/CollingwoodToday

Her goal is to get kids away from their computer screens.

For 30 years, Shirley Marsden has owned Read it Again New and Used Books and Comics. The business started on 22 Second Street and called that location home for 28 years, only moving to their current location on Hurontario Street two years ago.

“I’ve always liked to read, and I’ve always liked to do things for kids because there’s not much around,” said Marsden.

Thirty years ago, Marsden was a hairdresser and owned a taxi company in Collingwood.

“I rented a five-room spot. I always had people wanting to rent some of the other rooms for businesses like nail business, but I didn’t want that because people getting their hair cut didn’t want to smell the nail chemicals,” said Marsden. “So I tried to figure out something I could do with the other rooms.”

Marsden said she had some shelves in her space, and after attending a yard sale she bought two books with which to start filling the shelf.

“I had this gentleman whose hair I was cutting, and he said, ‘Oh my God, do you know how long I’ve been looking for that book?’” said Marsden. “He said he had been looking for that book for more than 20 years. He told me he’d give me $20 for that book. So that started it.”

Over time, Marsden’s business has evolved. In addition to books, she carries new comics, memorabilia, movies and games.

Most recently, Marsden has added Dungeons and Dragons and Magic card games to her stock.

“I like to get people away from their computers,” she said. “This is going back to what kids used to do ages ago.”

Marsden said she finds her business comes primarily from people who discover a new author and are interested in obtaining their back catalogue at a reasonable price.

“We have the new ones, but we also keep all the previous ones too,” she said.

Marsden’s store accepts donations of gently-used recently released books. No one genre outperforms the others.

“We have departments for everybody and price ranges for everybody,” she said. “We used to not carry ‘rickety’ books, but people said they didn’t care as long as they could get them for three or four dollars. There are people on pensions who can’t afford much.”

Personally, Marsden’s favourite genre to read is humour non-fiction.

“Mystery is scary. Horror is scary. I don’t like being scared,” she said, with a laugh.

While Marsden said she would love to move to an even bigger space someday, the thought of moving all the books again is overwhelming.

“I carried all the books here. My arms were touching the ground,” she said. “Rent kills a used bookstore.”

Read it Again New and Used Books and Comics is located at 176 Hurontario Street.