2 December 2022

Griffith's first secondhand bookshop opens after seven-year fight

| Oliver Jacques
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Melissa Capararo holds up book while holding daughter

Melissa Capararo and her camera-shy daughter Maddie take a break in Ms Capararo’s ‘first serious business’. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Wagga-born Melissa Capararo opened Griffith’s first secondhand bookshop in November, following a seven-year journey to get a physical store off the ground.

“It all started when we took a table at the Yanco community markets and six baskets of books in early 2015. Since then, I have wanted my own store … I like reading and I want reading to be affordable for everyone,” she said.

“We noticed there was no secondhand bookshop in Griffith. I used to have to go all the way to Albury to find books from my favourite author.

“We have had an online presence since late 2016. Since then, we have been strategising how to make it bigger.”

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Ms Capararo, who grew up in Wagga but has lived in Griffith since 1997, has been on a mission to start a physical bookshop – BrowseBooks – since launching her online venture . Her journey hit a number of potholes alone the way, due to Covid-19 and Griffith’s astronomical rents.

“To rent a space on Banna Avenue [Griffith’s main street] can cost up to $1500 a week,” she said.

But she’s now found a more affordable location at 8 Olympic street, opposite the Griffith Community Centre and near the town’s only outdoor pool.

Browse Books sign

BrowseBooks has a physical and an online store. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

While there are other secondhand stores that may sell a limited selection of used literature, Ms Capararo’s store is understood to be the first in town dedicated exclusively to the sale of books.

“We are open Tuesday through to Saturday. As it gets bigger, we’ll be opening longer. Hopefully we will expand and soon be open seven days a week.

“We are very family orientated. My mum helps me. My husband helps. Maddie my daughter helps with the mail orders after school.”

“This is my first serious business … but I can’t tell you where I get my books from. It’s a state secret.”

The bookstore, which includes fiction and non-fiction titles, including an extensive crime and thriller section, also includes a request service.

“When we are out and about we look for books. I’ve been known to be doing a two-kilometre walk and be on the phone telling people, ‘I’ve found your book, I’ve found your book’.

“I have a secret superpower – on occasion I can source a whole tonne of books and have them sold before I get home.

“I am grateful to the Yenda Post Office, who stays open to 5:30 pm, which lets us do our mailing after the store is closed.”

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Region asked her toddler daughter Maddie the name of her favourite book.

“The red one … I want my daddy,” she replied.

“Her dad [Andrew] is away on flood deployment in Narrandera. He works for the Rural Fire Service (RFS). Maddie misses him,” Melissa said.

Inside Browse Books store.

BrowseBooks’ owner Melissa Capararo won’t reveal where she sources her books from. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A family history of dementia was also a big motivator behind Melissa’s venture.

“There was a big medical study that dealt with dementia … reading is a big thing you need to do to keep your mind active and stave it off.

“Dementia is now 49 per cent of the health budget now and they expect that to blow out to at least double, if not triple.

“Watching TV is a mindless activity, it does not engage your brain enough.”

BrowseBooks, located at 8 Olympic Avenue, is open noon to 5 pm Tuesday to Friday and 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday.

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