Richard Sims opened Once & Again News & Used Books on Sawdust Road in 2002. Because Sims lives in North Carolina, Manager Lauren Flores, who has worked at the bookstore since 2008, oversees the day-to-day operations on the independently owned shop.
“I had been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years, but I had been a volunteer at my kids’ schools, so this just seemed like the perfect fit for me,” Flores said. “The customers here are usually very friendly, and we’ve seen some of the same ones for years, so we’ve gotten to know them over time—it’s just a fun place.”
The bookstore offers new, used, hardback and paperback books for readers of all levels and interests. Inventory genres include mystery, romance, science fiction, business, reference, young adult, children’s and nonfiction. The store also carries a selection of audio books.
“We try to have a little bit of everything, and our inventory is kind of based on what our customers want,” Flores said. “We used to have a pretty limited philosophy section, but that has become more popular, so we’ve expanded that section. We try to keep our inventory very personal for our clients.”
Flores said the shop also strives to stay on top of required reading lists at neighboring schools to stay stocked for students. It also offers discounts for teachers and the staff can special order any books the inventory may not include if a customer requests it.
“Because we’re independently owned and local, we’re able to get special orders in, in just a few days, whereas bigger book stores typically take weeks because they have to go through corporate,” Flores said. “We get book deliveries every day from a variety of vendors, so our inventory is constantly changing.”
Flores said the shop also buys used books and will pay the seller up to half of what the store can sell the book for with in-store credit. Before purchasing a used book to resell in the store, Flores said the staff considers the condition of the book and the store’s inventory to make sure the selection is diverse.
In March, the store relocated from its original location to a smaller suite next door in the same shopping center. Flores said while the inventory has remained basically the same, the staff did get rid of the store’s clearance books. The new location also has less room for reading but features newly painted walls and carpeting.
Despite e-readers, such as Kindle and iPad, becoming more popular, Flores said the store has not seen too much competition from online options as many avid readers still enjoy buying traditional books.
“When e-readers first hit the market, it seemed like there was a little decline in our business but as time has passed, people have not enjoyed them as much and prefer an actual book in their hands,” she said. “So [online competition] hasn’t impacted us too much.”
Flores said, in the future, she hopes the shop— self-dubbed “The Woodlands’ Indie Book Store”—can continue to serve the community for many years to come.
“When you shop here, you’re shopping locally and supporting a small business,” she said. “So we really appreciate our customers and just hope we can continue to be here for our clientele.”
379 Sawdust Road, Spring
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.