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Published: Friday, 8/13/2010

Reynolds road fixture Frogtown Books to shut store, keep selling online

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Yet another of Toledo's independent bookstores is closing its doors.

Frogtown Books, which has been selling used and rare books from a storefront at 2131 North Reynolds Rd. since August, 1992, will close on Sept. 30, co-owner Cheryl Baughman said.

"We've gone in too many different directions, so we've decided to pare it a little bit," by closing the retail store, Mrs. Baughman explained.

She and her husband, Pete, will still sell rare books on the Internet, but will sell off much of their approximately 30,000 used books during special sales in September.

"It's time-consuming to have to be here all the time. In any kind of collectibles business, you have to be out looking for things all the time, and that's hard to do while maintaining a store," Mrs. Baughman said.

"We've been here for 18 years - it's been a long time - but there are still people who walk in and say they've just discovered us."

Frogtown's announcement comes less than nine months after another locally owned bookstore, Leo's Book Shop, closed its doors downtown after 42 years and five years after Thackeray's Books closed its store in the Westgate Village Shopping Center.

Though it rarely hosted big-name book-signings, Frogtown

Books did offer local authors and those who self-published their books a venue for signings and sales.

Frogtown was founded from a passion for rare books that overtook Mr. Baughman in the 1980s while he worked a series of local government jobs.

He began buying individual books and selling them for higher prices, eventually traveling to books shows across the country, and dipped a toe in the retail book waters with a booth inside a Findlay-area antiques mall.

Within a few years, the Baughmans moved their massive collection from a garage to the storefront on North Reynolds, and began to branch out into other collectibles, including autographs and signed documents.

The advent of the Internet allowed the couple to expand their customer base exponentially, shipping used and rare books to collectors and enthusiasts around the world.

But what the Internet giveth, it also taketh away, Mrs. Baughman said.

"It's not just the local economy, but the availability of used books on the Internet that has really brought the prices down," hurting profitability, she said.

Mike Lora, special collections coordinator for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, said as a regular visitor to Frogtown Books, he is sad to see it shutting down.

"When I stopped in, I was looking for things that would appeal to me. I always enjoyed stopping in and chatting, to see what was new," Mr. Lora said.

"Considering what the Internet has done to the prices of used and out-of-print books, it's making it harder and harder for a stand-alone shop to make the nut to pay the rent.

"In this day and age, it's easier to be an online book seller."

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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