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Munchkin Book Shop may be small, but a large collection of used books has allowed the Swanton Township store to grow despite pressures from chain bookstores.
Owner Barbara Kerschner, who will celebrate the store's 30th anniversary Saturday, has more than 200,000 romance, mystery, paranormal, and science fiction books in stock. She said the business has weathered competition from larger bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, because the shop's extensive collection allows readers to find early works from their favorite authors.
"Most shops can only keep two or three years, but they don't go back into the first ones that were published," said Mrs. Kerschner, 73.
The store at 10435 Airport Hwy. will hold an open house at 11 a.m. Saturday to celebrate three decades in business. Authors Elizabeth Vaughan, Melody Morgan, and Sherry Burkett are expected to sign books for fans during the event.
Mrs. Kerschner bought Munchkin in 1981 from her friend Theresa Cleland, co-owner of Cleland's Outdoor World. Both women say the bookstore, next to Cleland's, got its name from Mrs. Cleland, who stands less than 5 feet tall.
Mrs. Kerschner, who worked in the store for three years before she took over, said she was unsure whether she had the skills to run the business, which only had about 1,000 books at the time. However, Mrs. Cleland said she knew her friend was right for the job.
"She likes to deal with people," Mrs. Cleland said. "She's a real people person."
Since then, Mrs. Kerschner has worked to carry books that meet her customers' changing tastes. Romance novels were once the store's most popular item, but Mrs. Kerschner said interest seems to be shifting toward books with paranormal or science fiction themes.
Mrs. Kerschner is the shop's sole employee, though she sometimes receives help from friends or her husband, Delbert. She said the store has provided enjoyment for her over the years, even as she worked while battling breast cancer nearly two decades ago.
"That was important to me to keep working during that time when I could," said Mrs. Kerschner, who has been in remission for 18 years.
Mrs. Kerschner said her customers motivate her to keep Munchkin going, and she has no plans to retire any time soon.
"I don't consider them customers," she said. "I consider them friends."
-- Sheena Harrison