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On the way to 800,000 books
Chamblin’s Uptown Bookstore and Café is undergoing a remodeling with the installation of about 500 feet of new bookshelves.
The Beat Generation section has been expanded to create a new “counterculture” department. There also is a new section devoted to books about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Downtown's largest retailer is expanding its inventory by about 30 percent, but without building more square feet onto the store or moving to a new location.

Chamblin's Uptown Bookstore and Café is adding more than 500 feet of shelf space by eliminating most of the display areas in the two-story, 12,000-square-foot new and used bookstore.

"We can't go up and we can't dig a basement. It was all we could do," said Jennifer O'Donnell, manager.

She said before the new shelves were installed, the inventory totaled about 600,000 books. When the expansion is completely stocked, Uptown will have about 800,000 books plus audio books, music and movies.

Uptown is the Downtown location for Chamblin's Bookmine, the iconic used book store along Roosevelt Boulevard near Ortega.

When he bought the building in 2006, owner Ron Chamblin said he had five storage buildings full of books that he didn't have space at the Bookmine to display.

When he found the vintage 1904 structure along Laura Street a block from the Main Library was for sale, he made the decision to expand the business with a second store.

O'Donnell said in the past eight years, the combined inventory of the two stores and the company's warehouse has grown past the 5 million mark.

"We will never be able to shelve all of the books. You could call us book hoarders on steroids," she said.

In addition to nearly 200,000 more books, the new shelves also will hold 50 percent more DVDs and Blu-ray Discs and the CD inventory has more than doubled, O'Donnell said.

The timing for the shelf project is related to the building next door to Uptown. Chamblin bought it two years ago and has been waiting for Gus & Co. shoe and luggage repair to move out so the space can be converted into another street-level restaurant with apartments on the upper floors.

"The carpenters were getting ready to start on the new project. They aren't that busy yet, so I grabbed them and got them to build us some more shelves," O'Donnell said.

mmarbut@baileypub.com

(904) 356-2466

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