Greenway finds new life for used books

GREENWAY BOOKS CO-OWNER Jane Wilson by the new “Hope” mural the Power of Words Project put up earlier this summer on the side of their business at 525 S. Stephenson Ave. The used books store only moved to that site three years ago and was thrilled to be chosen for one of the murals, Wilson said. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Greenway Books believes the public still has a need for the printed word.

“I don’t care what they say,” co-owner Jane Wilson declared, “there’s so many people that want a book in their hands.”

The business is now the last true bookstore in the area, having seen Book World in the Midtown Mall shut its doors late last year.

But Wilson says used book stores like theirs for now fill a niche. “The used book market offers out-of-print books, used titles, hard to find,” Wilson said. “And we’re real budget-minded with our prices.”

Greenway Books came into being when Wilson’s daughter, Erin, had to create a fictitious business for a class while studying management and accounting in college.

“I’ve always wanted to have a used bookstore,” Jane Wilson said. So she told her daughter if the numbers all worked out, they’d make that imaginary business a reality.

The store opened March 26, 2010, at 725 River Ave., the former site of Izzo’s Shoe Hospital. They spent five years there before moving in 2015 to 525 S. Stephenson Ave., along the main route through downtown Iron Mountain.

The new site offered more space, Jane Wilson said, with an upper and lower level that allows them to stock books “of just about anything you could imagine.” The shelves upstairs — custom-made by her son — have sections that include children and young adults, fiction, true crimes/life stories, classics/historical, westerns, romance — lots of romance, religious, pets, self-help, non-fiction, signed, regional interest and new books. Downstairs are such topics as hunting and fishing, history and government, science fiction and fantasy, New Age and Native American, cookbooks, diet and health, home improvements, biographies, music and action/adventure.

The store has a running list of book requests she will go looking for, checking in at St. Vincent’s or garage sales to see if a copy can be found. They’ll order off Amazon as well for a small fee, so customers don’t have to set up a separate account.

Their basement also has a Children’s Learning Center and English Department display of materials. The store supplies books for the Great Start book mailboxes in the area, where children can take books home for free.

Those books are donated to the program, from local schools or communities, Jane Wilson said. She cleans them and puts Great Start stickers on them before sending them out for distribution among the mailboxes.

They moved to the region in 1999, after she and her husband, Michael, took a vacation to the Upper Peninsula. They now live in Sagola, while her daughter is in Iron Mountain.

“We’ve never looked back,” Jane Wilson said. “I can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else.” She likes “the community, the people, the relaxed atmosphere, the friendly nature of everyone.”

The store takes consignment items, too, and has works by the local Borderland Arts group on display for purchase. Jane Wilson does wood burning and “little fairy houses” of stones and driftwood, while her daughter makes hand-dipped and carved decorative candles.

But they’re most proud recently of the artwork on the outside of the business: this summer, one of their walls was chosen for the Power of Words Project mural, “Hope.”

“That was a really big deal for us,” Jane Wilson said.

Future plans are to have a side room selling craft supplies, such as beads and buttons, or for making candles, soap and jewelry. They eventually would use the space for hosting workshops as well, she said.

“We want to broaden our appeal,” Jane Wilson said. “You’ve got to have that broad selection, a little bit of everything.”