When Delana Lefevers and Dan Bradley merged their lives in marriage, they also merged their book collections.
And this could have been problematic, if not for a vision to which both of them had held fast for several years.
“He had thousands and thousands and I had a pretty healthy collection going myself,” said Lefevers Thursday afternoon from the Olde Towne storefront where she and Bradley have hung out their shingle as Chapter Two Books, 409 W. Mission Ave.
“We were using them as furniture. The garage was packed. The house was packed. But we always had this dream that maybe we’d open a store. Finally, one day we both looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s open a used book store.’”
Chapter Two got its start this summer at the Bellevue Farmers Market in Washington Park, where the bibliophiles set up a table and started hawking well-loved books the couple was eager to see get renewed life.
Using some of the Farmers Market profits as seed money and also turning to the Internet for a crowdfunding campaign that netted $500, Lefevers and Bradley cast about for the right location and found it nestled on this little corner, neighboring other homespun endeavors like the Moonstruck Meadery and Drizzles Bakery.
“It’s a really cool area,” Lefevers said. “And everyone has been so welcoming to us. It’s a great little location. You’ve got your booze, your cupcakes and now, your books.”
Lefevers and Bradley said they’ll cater to readers of every stripe, but as Bradley holds a tender place in his reader’s heart for the titans of literature, the couple are hoping the store might become known for working at elevating tastes and bringing classics back into orbit for some.
Bradley is working his way through the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels list and several of those titles are to be found on Chapter Two’s shelves. Parting with some of his favorites — many of the books on the shelves are from Lefever’s and Bradley’s own collections — has been such sweet sorrow.
“I’m hoping people will take a look at those and maybe find a connection with them,” he said. “It was still sad, but I thought about it and, if people can have a connection with a great book and feel what I felt when I read it, then I’m doing something worthwhile.”
But neither will Chapter Two try to hold itself out as too highbrow.
“We want to be open to everybody,” Lefevers said. “We’ll still have the trade paperbacks. You can still get Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson here. We want to be here for all readers.”
The couple are also creating a performance space for local artists, whatever their talent, and a general gathering place for the community. Lefevers’ 10-year-old daughter already has designs on creating a storytime for youngsters.
And in the age of the e-reader, Chapter Two is also hoping to bring back the tactile feeling of holding a book, of loving a book, of making the form of a book come alive in a reader’s hands.
“I think this will be a good thing for the community,” Lefevers said. “From what I’ve heard, people aren’t doing as much reading on e-readers as you think.
“And who could blame them? It’s so cold. It’s not something you can pass down from generation to generation, it’s not something you can give as a gift. Well, you can, but would you rather have a book or an email in your inbox saying, ‘There’s a book waiting for you, just click here?’ We want to bring back the joy of holding a book.”
A quotation from Virginia Woolf on the storefront sums up Chapter Two’s aims: “Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.”
Amidst the unpacking of a bevy of volumes, Lefevers said the mystical pull of books is something very real in the shop.
“These books are alive to us,” she said.
“We feel we’ve rescued them from some horrific fate and we’ll give them to good homes.”
Chapter Two Books opened Monday. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.