A Landmark for Literature
A New Chapter for an Old Bookstore
The Corner Stone Bookshop, a downtown Plattsburgh landmark of 47 years, has turned a new page with a new owner. But the three-story shop, home to thousands of secondhand books, still offers visitors a unique buying experience.
Wendy Baker, along with her husband, bought the Corner Stone Bookshop in March 2020. A fan of secondhand bookstores, Baker is
also a lover of literature. Two of her favorite authors, Stephen Jay Gould and Amanda Gorman, have their own sections at Corner Stone.
“I’ve been to used bookshops anywhere I’ve gone, in any country I’ve visited. It’s always something I’ve gravitated toward. It’s one of the places where I feel at home,” Baker said.
This is not a new book store or a library. Although Cornerstone has no dewey decimal system, everything has a place somewhere in the shop. From cookbooks, mysteries or car manuals, there is a spot for it all. The stacks are organized by genre, allowing readers to go right where they want to be. Some customers come in looking for something familiar, while others find old treasures completely new to them. Baker appreciates being a guide, directing browsers to their next beloved novel.
“I would first ask them what the last thing they read was, what kinds of stories or characters they like, or if it would it be about a certain place or a certain type of person?” Baker said.
Baker asks these questions to point people in the right direction, careful
not to hold their hand. She believes they must find the book they are looking for themselves.
“Part of its charm is you really never know what you’re going to find,”
The first sight in the store is a towering shelf from floor to ceiling filled with the classics.
“Everyone always loves the classics wall, so we try to keep it well stocked,” Baker said.
The books at the Corner Stone are the result of community donations
and trade-ins. This ensures every book a chance at a new life. Once books arrive in the shop, they are cleaned, priced and stacked with others of the same genre.
“Books here can have a long tale,” Baker said.
The Corner Stone, open everyday but Monday, is filled with books from
all eras. Ideas and stories from years forgotten echo through the aisles. The shop even carries an original Harvard Classics collection.
“We have some books that date into the 1700s, before the country was
born,” Baker said.
The chime of the doorbell rings daily as hopeful visitors enter the shop to walk among the towering shelves and hunt for the perfect discovery.
“Days here always start with welcoming people through the door right away, excited to be here and look for books, wander and really just to be
among books,” Baker said.
Some people may have no idea what kind of book or author they are
looking for, while others know exactly what they want.
“We have people who will come in and buy 25 westerns, go home, read
them and then come and trade them in for 25 different westerns,” Baker said.
Interacting with customers and helping them find new books is one
of Baker’s most beloved parts about running the shop. With that in mind,
Baker gestured toward a customer waiting at the register.
“Take this young woman for example. She just walked into the store with someone who’s important to her. She couldn’t wait to spend time here
and to find books. Then she’ll leave with her heart full and possibilities in
her arms. That is my favorite part of the bookshop.”
— Story and Photos by Luca Gross