Mondragon: Born from a Vision
When walking down Market street in Lewisburg towards the Lewisburg Hotel, a local hotspot restaurant in the downtown area, you pass many shops and stores. Within each store, you can trace its origins either from a long line of family owners or a short endever to recreate a piece of the towns history. However, Mondragon, a small and recent part of Lewisburg history, has an uncertain history that was born from a vision of a retired professor from a Lewisburg staple: Bucknell University.
Though an exact date cannot be tracked down, founder and previous owner Dr. Charles Sackrey, a professor from Bucknell University established Mondragon Books in 2009. In his original plans for the store, He wanted to create an environment that people could enter the store from varied backgrounds and share in a culture to purchase used books for very little cost. Based on the ideals that all books are donated to the store, there are very little expenses when it comes to supplies to start the store.
With Mondragon opening on the east side of the downtown district on Lewisburg, the main source of competition was the newly opened chain “Barnes and Nobles” on the other side of town. With that store having direct ties to Bucknell University, Mondragon had to have a defining feature that would make them stand out from their competitor. Charles searched the community and see if there were volunteers that would be willing to help with the store, whether it was stocking books on the shelves, sitting at the desk, or helping keep the store going. Thriving on donations of books, community support, volunteers and dedication by Charles and those who helped this vision of a safe space for used books all came true. For years, Charles kept the store going, with help here and there.
In 2016, the current owner and manager of Mondragon, Sarajane Snyder, came into the narrative of Mondragon as it is today. Being a local of the area, only growing up 10 miles upstream from Lewisburg in the small town of New Columbia, Sarajane has a love for books. After recently moving back into the area, She wanted to “take on a new project”, as said in my conversation with her over a fresh cup of coffee. Sarajane became active as a volunteer in the store, and grew into being at the store on a daily basis. As Charles grew older, Sarajane was approached with the offer to consider taking over the bookstore in its daily operations, the ownership and managing everything. In sarajanes own words, she said ” Yes! I have no idea what to do, but I am up for the challenge!”
That following year, in January of 2017, Mondragon was officially taken over by Sarajane and the second leg of Mondragon began to grow. As the store began, its new journey started to take form in the same style. New changes began to take place, such as the advertisement of the store, and the way they are going to be marketing their books. Sara looked at the different genres of books and the demographics of the area and created a new style of advertisement and market place not tired yet: Amazon. Books that show value, a collection or greater series are posted on Amazon to expand the selling market. Sara explained that between 25-30% of their business now is through the internet, as is most of the world’s attention. Another marketing tool that Sarajane harnessed was born out of her own personal experience. Since she is a book enthusiast and having a vast collection of her own, she found that she very quickly ran out of room and had to reduce the size by selling. However, the place that she sells them would be considered a nontraditional store for books, but proven to be effective: a local consignment store. Located in an old flower mill on the other side of town, Mondragon has a book stand at local “mom and pop shop” Roller Mills Antiques. Local favorites, such as gardening, classical literature, farming and local history books are said to be the best sellers at Roller Mills.
With the store ina state of transitioning and evolving, the volunteers have become a crucial part of the store. Not only is it first and foremost a reduction in the costs of the store, they are the backbone of everything that happens. Making sure the shelves are stacked, handle donations, serve the customers, and keep records of daily attendance of customers that enter the store.
In the current state of the bookstore, Sarajane is in the process of calibrating the physical location into something new and more fitting with the evolving world world around us. Just as in the reading “Feminist Bookstores,” by Daphne Spain, Sara is trying to create a niche for the store just as the ones in Spain’s article. With newer events going on, such as “Sci-Fi Tuesday”, where classics of that genre are discussed the last tuesday of every month, or an art gallery every thursday evening. Mondragon in beginning to take the form of a new store: not just books. Though the path changes from owner to owner, the story and ideals stay the same in Mondragon: being there to support and benefit the community through art and literature. in its many forms, Chales, Sarajane, and the numerous volunteers achieve this in all that they do!
Snyder, Sarajane. Personal interview. 7 February 2019
Mondragon Books (Mondragon Books)
“Feminist Bookstores: Building Identity.” Constructive Feminism: Women’s Spaces and Women’s Rights in the American City, by Daphne Spain, 1st ed., Cornell University Press, 2016, pp. 84–110. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt18kr5mx.8
Timeline made using Time.graphics