Nestled in a renovated Hopkinton barn, Vintage Books holds a trove of used, rare, and out-of-print books that would send any antique lover, historian, or literature buff swooning.
Vintage Books began in 1988 in downtown Framingham before relocating to 181 Hayden Rowe St. in 1993. Its new location houses approximately 50,000 titles.
The shop is owned and operated by David and Nancy Haines, a chemistry professor at Wellesley College and a retired industrial engineer, respectively.
The couple met in Washington, D.C. They shared a dream of opening a bookstore in their retirement.
However, just two years after their marriage, Nancy "became fed up" with her position as an engineering consultant and announced her retirement. Vintage Books was born.
Within six months, David and Nancy purchased 20,000 books from estate sales, yard sales, auctions and donations.
In downtown Framingham their selection appealed to a mass market. But David said they became “significantly more selective” with their stock upon moving to Hopkinton.
The casual browser is less likely to find genre fiction such as mysteries or romance paperbacks. Vintage Books current collection focuses on art, history, religion, and nonfiction titles, ranging in price from 50 cents to $3,000.
“Customers never know what they’re going to find,” David said. “The fun thing for me is I’ve learned more history in this store than in all of my education.”
David has seen a range of customers, including casual browsers, people with special interests, people who simply love the look and feel of old books, local high school students, and scholarly libraries.
In some cases, customers locate Vintage Books on the Internet for very rare items.
“Sometimes we have the only available copy in the world,” says David.
Vintage Books has also established itself as the largest antiquarian Quaker book dealer in the world. It has a collection of approximately 6,000 titles dating back to 1650.
The collection of Quaker books began when David was “killing time” while visiting a friend in Minneapolis and wandered into an antique book store.
As a descendent of Quakers, he was enthralled with the selection of Quaker literature and began building a collection with books he purchased that day.
David also notes that Vintage Books' stock is “always evolving depending on what we run into.”
New books come in all the time. The couple recently bought the library of a professional genealogist. It included 20,000 volumes and sold within two years.
David and Nancy are always on the lookout for books they have never seen before or are “somewhat unusual.” They “tend to be selective about rarity.”
Though the Haineses have seen five fellow independent bookstores close in the past three years, they manage to ride out difficult economic times by operating the store themselves and being less rigid with their hours.
Vintage Books is typically open from noon to 5, Tuesday through Saturday, but the Hainses recommend calling beforehand to confirm. They can be reached at (508) 435-3499 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stop by 181 Hayden Rowe St. and explore the lost or forgotten literary and historic treasures of the past.