Casperson family opens new book shop in Niles
NILES, Mich.—Over 50 years ago, Ralph Casperson opened a book shop on his property on Niles-Buchanan Road.
When Ralph passed away, his son, Al, inherited tens of thousands of old, used, and rare books.
While some of the books went into storage for a while, Al took what he could and opened up shop in downtown Niles in 2013 but about two years later, he closed it down.
“It’s not that it didn’t go well, I was just working seven days per week for years. I couldn't do it anymore,” said Al Casperson.
When Al retired, he and his wife, City Clerk Linda Casperson, decided to purchase the vacant building right next to their home on Broadway with the purpose of pulling some of those old items out of storage and putting them into the hands of the community that they care so deeply about.
“Everything just seems to naturally fit. I have the inventory, the building is right next to our house, I love what I’m doing and now my daughter is coming into the fold and it’s just a perfect fit,” Al said.
Al’s daughter, Christina, an artist, is opening up a gallery in the spring in the same building as the new book shop.
On Friday, the Caspersons officially opened the bookshop for business at 302 Broadway Street and Al can’t wait for the community to come in and discover a bit of local history.
“This is a browsing shop. You come in and you don’t know what you’re going to see when you turn the corner. You take the books off the shelves, you look at them and you discover something that you just didn’t know existed,” Al said.
Sitting on shelves that Al made in a mid-century modern former office space, shoppers will find old, used, and rare books in addition to paper ephemera, prints, historic local postcards, and more.
Al finds the inventory in all sorts of places, from attics to barns. He even still has about 60,000 books in storage from his father’s business days.
“I make a lot of house calls,” Al said. “I call it pre-recycling. I buy what people don’t want anymore. A lot of people don’t know that what’s sitting around could be valuable to history.”
Casperson’s Books is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.