Readers’ Garden Book Store – Granville, Ohio

Granville, Ohio’s Readers’ Garden Book Store is a virtual case study in the strategic display of merchandise. When Kim Keethler Ball moved from store employee to owner last month, she took a focused approach not only to how the quaint store looked, such as clearing the window clutter to allow in more natural light, but also which book genres took prominence on the shelves.

While most stores devote prime shelf space at the front entryway to popular books from the bestseller list, Kim uses that space to make a bit of a statement. Instead of popular fiction, shoppers will find shelves for African-American and international authors, LGBTQ reads, and poetry right by the front door – a move that has caused such subject matter to fly off the shelves.

A hand-painted mural adorns the wall of the large children’s section.

That isn’t all. Since taking over the shop from former owner JoAnne Geiger, Kim has worked swiftly to make the space her own, from rearranging the retail space to adding some furniture and bringing in live plants. But the changes weren’t out of the blue. Kim had been working in the shop, under JoAnne, for several months.

“I started working here in November 2018, then a combination of things led to me taking it over,” she says. “JoAnne had it for twenty years. She’s in her seventies, and she’s a newlywed, so she has things to do!”

JoAnne, who is still helping Kim with the ownership transition, wasn’t the only one facing life changes. A mother of four, Kim’s youngest child is set to graduate high school this spring, which left her in search of her next step. After trying the store on for size under JoAnne’s management, Kim took the reins April 1. 

The small shop offers a healthy mix of new and used books, and sells books on consignment as well as takes donations – but not just any old book will make the cut. JoAnne took pride in the books she agreed to accept from donors, a tradition Kim plans to continue.

“JoAnne had very high standards for readers and what she took in as used books,” Kim says. “They had to be in good shape. We don’t do any vintage books. We look for what people are reading.”

In addition to her robust inventory and aesthetic touches, Kim is expanding the shop’s participation in community events, including hosting author readings and signings and taking part in Granville’s monthly Art Walk, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ll have paintings from local artists and pair books with it, put out some cheese and such.”

With the store’s well-established reputation and Kim’s fresh eye for luring in shoppers, the harvest should soon prove bountiful at the Readers’ Garden.

Inspirational literary quotes adorn the walls at Readers’ Garden.

Readers’ Garden Book Store is located at 143 East Broadway in Granville, Ohio. 

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