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Book sale runs smoothly with COVID-19 guidelines in place

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Oct 23, 2020

Shepherdstown Community Club volunteers Mike Austin and Jody Cullen discuss where to place a book for sale. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Shepherdstown Community Club hosted their annual book sale last weekend, which turned out to be a huge success, in spite of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Prior to the sale, SCC officials developed a plan to allow for social distancing within the walls of the War Memorial Building and required all shoppers and volunteers to wear masks. In addition, they sanitized the building each evening, after the sale closed for the day.

“It seems great,” said return shopper Alex Dugas, mentioning this is his third year attending the sale. “I always find things [here].”

The sale opened on Thursday evening for its traditional pre-sale, where those who wanted first pick could pay a $10 entrance fee. According to SCC member and book sale organizer Mike Austin, the pre-sale entrance line was down the street.

What was in the past a wine and cheese event didn’t disappoint this year, although it came in a different form.

“While we usually served wine and cheese, we realized this year that people wouldn’t be able to partake with their masks, so we sent them home with a mini bottle of wine and snacks,” said Jennifer Wabnitz, president of the club. “People were so appreciative.”

As with Thursday’s preview event, Friday’s general public book sale opening saw its entrance line once again forming out of the War Memorial Building door, as many turned out to peruse the books and have an opportunity to attend a local event.

“This is the largest civic event the town has had since the virus,” Austin said.

According to Austin, over 40,000 books were on sale at the event.

“We had over 1,000 cookbooks donated from Mary Stanley’s estate,” Austin said, saying that more will be coming. “We also had a large donation of religious and philosophy books from Bill O’Brien. I’ve never seen so many different sources of books.”

Austin noted the sale’s sponsors included Four Seasons Books and Valley Storage, which provides year-round storage for book donations for the sale.

After the sale ended, the SCC invited five used book stores to come take what they would like from the books that didn’t sell. As of Friday, Austin said both Fuzzy Dog Books & Music, of Ranson, and Four Seasons Books had confirmed they would take advantage of the offer.

“We try to find someone who can use them,” Austin said, sharing that books are donated to school libraries, placed in Free Little Libraries and given to other venues and organizations.

“We are looking at a potential second book event in the coming year,” Austin said, indicating this was due to the increase in book donations to the sale.

The sale is the largest fundraiser for the SCC, which owns and maintains both the War Memorial Building and Morgan’s Grove Park.