The owners of one of the largest used bookstores in the country bought The Bookmark in Bend and plan to overhaul its inventory to include new books and used DVDs.

Josh and Heidi Spencer, who live in Bend, on Tuesday completed their purchase of The Bookmark, on NE Greenwood Avenue, and Wednesday started running the business. In Los Angeles, the Spencers own The Last Bookstore, which boasts more than half a million titles, filling 22,000 square feet of space in a historic building.

The Bookmark, by contrast, is 2,746 square feet with a collection of about 100,000 books, according to The Bulletin archives.

“We just saw an opportunity,” Josh Spencer said.

He plans to change the name of the store to Big Story, spruce up the building and update the inventory of books. Spencer said he’ll honor all customer trade accounts while also buying used books and introducing new books and used DVDs.

Spencer’s Los Angeles bookstore was the subject of a short film by director Chad Howitt, “Welcome to The Last Bookstore,” that explores Spencer’s outlook on life and the story behind the bookstore.

“We’ve tried to add a real human element,” Spencer says in the film. “We wanted to be an authentic, real experience versus something that’s cold and calculated. I think that’s the difference. I think that’s one reason why we’ve been able to do well and other bookstores perhaps are struggling.”

Despite the Los Angeles store’s large size, he said, there are even more books that don’t fit into inventory that he’ll ship to Bend. As at The Last Bookstore, Spencer said he’ll aim for quick turnaround of titles and stock new books so that customers can always find copies of high-demand classics.

The Bookmark’s former owner, Linda McGeary, put the business up for sale in September as she hoped to retire. Spencer said he heard about the business being for sale as he was buying used books in Bend.

Founded in 2003 at 228 NE Greenwood Ave., just west of Third Street, The Bookmark was one of three used bookstores within a two-block radius on Greenwood, along with The Paperback Exchange and The Open Book. The Open Book is still in operation, but The Paperback Exchange has closed.

McGeary’s store was focused on the books and didn’t branch into selling coffee or hosting events. She had a customer list with about 6,000 names, an impressive number for a town the size of Bend, Spencer said. He said he hasn’t yet decided whether to deviate from McGeary’s no-frills business model.

Josh Spencer, 41, said he and his wife, Heidi Spencer, 39, will operate the Bend bookstore along with an employee. He manages The Last Bookstore remotely most of the time but spends one week a month in L.A., he said.

Spencer declined to say how much he paid for The Bookmark, which was listed for sale with an asking price of $65,000. The deal did not include real estate.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com

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