Finding the Unknown, A Hidden Bookstore.

Standing out front of DJ Ernst.

Every county has at least one small town that strives to keep their original physique buzzing. Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, a charming riverside town holds a beautiful strip with locally owned restaurants, boutiques, and pubs that attract the native and foreign communities. The unique part of the street that isn’t like any other business is the one independent bookstore nestled into the side of a hairdresser and a store that went out of business. Located on 27 N. Market Street, DJ Ernst is a used bookstore that is filled with various collections that attract not only individuals from this area but in other states.

Established in 1975, DJ Ernst has experienced a range of history in the Selinsgrove community. Today, multiple eateries and companies surround the local business. It is the only independent bookstore that is settled in the Selinsgrove community; the closet relatable business is the county library, only being a block away, and BAM (a chain bookstore) located in the mall, which is a 7-minute drive away. Being in this position is an advantage; it’s accessible for walking traffic from Susquehanna University that is only a 10-minute commute; bringing you through the town and to the bookstore.

Peering into the window of DJ Ernst.

Taking a tour around Market Street across the street from the bookshop is The Kind Café, a trendy coffee shop that attracts not only the community, but also visitors and local college students. This synergy formed between the locally owned businesses only aids and raises profits individually and for the town itself. Market Street is also less than a mile away from the Susquehanna River. The walk from the University to the river crosses through Market Street leading those who may not know the hidden gems in the town. No matter how you see Selinsgrove as a whole, this town is very unique and unknown at a large scale, having an overall population of 5,922. Selinsgrove isn’t a large town, nor is it very diverse with mostly white residents and the other 10% of the residents being those of different ethic backgrounds. Even though the statistics lay out this way, DJ Ernst is a bookstore for anybody and everybody. Having WW2 books to the history of King Tut there is a vast variety in topics and Ernst personal interests. This community is small, but personalized; Ernst takes recommendations for those interested in certain topics and gives his customers the best experience. Below is a visual map of the area, marked with a red pin is D.J Ernst. Zooming will display the various restaurants and stores around Market Street.

Although this strip has its charm, there are stores that have trouble surviving. It seems as though places of daily need are those that last quite a while, and others disappear. Luckily this town has seen overall growth spurts that bring in money for the town and local businesses. DataUSA shows that between 2015 and 2016 the population of Selinsgrove, PA grew from 5,720 to 5,810, a 1.57% increase and its median household income grew from $38,893 to $40,856, a 5.05% increase. An interesting statistic about Selinsgrove’s citizens is that their work life is close to the location that they live in. The work life in Selinsgrove, PA have an average commute time of 15.9 minutes; staying near the town keeps money and business within the area. The bottom right image displays the diversity within the area cited from DATAUSA.

Cited by DATAUSA, a bar graphic displaying the diversity in the area.

This area could mean different things to individuals that associate in any sort of sense. It’s a college town to Susquehanna students, a fishing area for locals and visitors, and it could even be just a town foreign individuals pass by. Even if there isn’t some sort of emotional connection to Selinsgrove or DJ Ernst, the relationship between area and person it is best seen as landscape. “Landscape is an intensely visual idea. In most definitions of landscape the viewer is outside of it” (Cresswell 10). Apposing, the native community to the area has the emotional connection, which resembles Cresswell’s explanation of Place: “as well as being located and having a material visual form, places must have some relationship to humans and the human capacity to produce consume meaning” (Cresswell 7).




By Valorie Erickson

Bar graph displayed above located on DATAUSA.


Google Maps: DJ Ernst, Selinsgrove and the various other stores pinned.


Cresswell, Tim. Place: A Short Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2004.

Statistics derived from DATAUSA.