Thursday, June 02, 2011

Nirvana.

McKay's used book store in Knox Vegas:


A gigantic used book store in a former Oldsmobile dealership. The ground floor is all books, movies, and vidjo games, and an elevator leads to the mezzanine where the music is. Every time I'm down in K-town, I have to make two visits, one with Gunsmith Bob and one with staghounds, because the store is too huge to take in at one lick. If I get out of there for less than fifty bucks at a whack, I count it as a win...

49 comments:

Robert said...

Damn! Only a 90 minute drive away! Didn't even know this place was there. Thanks Tam!

The Jack said...

Epic.

Rob Reed said...

How come no one told me about this before? I would have added an extra day to the trip just for this!

If I bring an overnight bag, would they lock me in when the store closes? I'd have a huge pile of stuff to buy by morning

Rob

JC said...

OMFG.Looks like my old place.

Tam said...

Rob Reed,

They have shopping carts... :)

Robin said...

Wow.

The only other time I was in such awe was Foyles in London.

Laughingdog said...

Good Lord!! I was that close to a place like that and didn't know? I feel cheated.

Guess that's as good a reason as any to head out to Deal's Gap for a few days.

Larry said...

Wow. I'm kind of surprised a town that size can support a store like that. The main Half-Price Books store in Dallas is similar, but that's a bigger market.

If you're ever in Portland, Oregon, you'll need to check out Powell's Books (both their main store and their science/engineering bookstore 3-4 blocks away (which had me goggling and my wallet whimpering). Also, don't miss SS-581 Blueback, the last diesel-electric boat commissioned into the US Navy, and decommissioned just over 20 years ago. It's the most modern submarine on public display and is in amazing condition. It didn't hurt that the tour guide for us had been a chief on the boat and could tell you absolutely anything you wanted to know. By all means take the 2-hour tech tour.

Apart from Powell's Books and the Blueback, I had little use for Portland. It's Berkeley North, for all intents and purposes.

Jayson said...

HOLY CRAPBALLS!

That's amazing. I may take a road trip to Knoxville. That looks like it's worth the drive from the ATL.

GuardDuck said...

It's Berkeley North, for all intents and purposes.

I like to refer to it as Moscow on the Willamette.

Drang said...

Hmm, may be time for another trip back to visit Mom and Dad. "Say, let's go to Knoxingham..."

It's Berkeley North, for all intents and purposes.
SEATTLE is "Berkeley North." Portland is Seattle South. VBEG.
I like to refer to it as Moscow on the Willamette.
Too easily confused with Eugene, where the Anarchists come from...

og said...

I have...


...issues with used bookstores. I usually canot go in one without a guide/rescuer. I'm especially foind of old first editions and well bound old technical manuals.
When Half Price Books started accepting credit cards I knew I was doomed. I used to be able to save myself by not taking any cash inside.

Miguel said...

Mother of God! Tag me with a GPS locator, gimme a bagful of MREs and a case of water and come back in 2 weeks!

staghounds said...

I love me some McKay's. There's one in Chattanooga and Raleigh, too, but Knoxville is the original and has the widest selection. Even in the depths of the clinical depression last year, there was always a line at the multiple registers so they must be selling bargains.


If you're looking for anything physically more than ten years old, you are out of luck- recent printings only. But they also carry masses of dvds, books on cds, and music cds.

Everything is pretty well organised, too.

Video games too- and plastic toy guitars, for some reason.

Oh- and they will buy lots of clean used books, too.

Blackwing1 said...

I thought Uncle Hugo's here in Minneapolis had the finest used SF book selection in the world. I may have been wrong...if they've got a good SF section in there.

How are they sorted, by genre, by author, by (hawk, spit) Dewey decimal?

It's a durned good thing it's too far away for me to visit; I could see dropping a chunk-o-change in there.

John B said...

Dayum! I wish we had something that Cool available locally.

I'd have Og's issue, except our local used book stores share space with a barbershop etc.

Nathan said...

Mother of God.

Ruth said...

damn.....and I don't live anywhere near there and have no excuse to head in that direction. Damn.

drvrrtchr said...

McKays is a family favorite of ours in Greensboro NC. Not as large as an Olds dealership but pretty darned big. I haunt the military book section, buy what I like to read then trade them in for store credit a few weeks later. Between McKays and Barnes & Noble I stay pretty much well supplied with books.
Kindle? Bah, humbug!!

Brick said...

@Staghounds - I'd have to disagree on the "pretty well organised". Don't get me wrong, I love McKay’s, too. Heck, cheap used books are one of the reasons I can't pull the trigger on a Kindle.

They group some popular books/authors/series in a special place. Others books in the same category are in semi-alphabetical order. The hardback editions are in a third place. Oh, the popular authors/series hardbacks are in a fourth location. The shelves often have books stacked two deep, so you have to shuffle them around.

Maybe I'm spoiled by Amazon quick searches and the big box book stores, but it takes more effort to find specific books at McKay's. Of course, that does lead to happy discoveries.

I'm sure I'm making it sound worse than it is, but, for those that haven't been, you just need to experience the massive beast that is McKay's. (Heck, they've already had to expand their parking lot!)

I wish they would put their inventory on-line. They may not want their pricing available to competitors, but just knowing what they had would be great. All their stuff is barcoded/computerized, so run a query and export it to a web page!

Ruth said...

heh "issues" with used book stores....my parents call used bookstores "drug pushers" and the whole family has learned to take a limited amount of cash into one, making sure to leave credit cards and checkbooks at home.

staghounds said...

I meant as compared to most ordinary used book stores, with a mainly fiction pile and a mainly non fiction pile. I always look for spare copies of a few books I find myself giving away, and it is easily done at McKay's.

Odysseus said...

Dear God, thankfully this is far away from me or I would be poor.....er.

Nathaniel said...

Jayson, there's one in Chattanooga too; from the picture I think it's about the same size.

And it's awesome.

Breda said...

I know this is totally dorky, but how do they organize their stock?

Jenny said...

Obviously Photoshop.

Tennesseans can't read. ;)

Pepsodent said...

Actuall, it's in the lot adjacent to a former Buick dealership, in a purpose built building. Campbell's Pools is in the old John Banks/Bill Rogers Buick building.

Tennessee Budd said...

I love McKay's. I stop every time I'm in Knoxville (which is pretty much never, since the Honda Hoot is gone).
wv=nonfur. Obviously, it's never met me.

RobertSlaughter said...

I'm just tingly looking at that. Might be worth the trip from ATL.

Mike W. said...

but I thought everyone read on kindle's and e-readers now. Dead trees are dead, right?

Tam said...

Breda,

"I know this is totally dorky, but how do they organize their stock?"

Professional interest isn't dorky. ;)

Non-fiction is organized by subject in a Dewey-esque fashion, and then by author within the subject.

Fiction is sorted by genre and author.

Tam said...

RobertSlaughter,

"Might be worth the trip from ATL."

My folks claimed they drove up to visit me, but it was really an excuse for me and my dad to kill an hour or two in McKay's. :D

deadcenter said...

there are several in northern virginia, or were when i left there in '94. none were quite that ... overwhelming ... but i miss them all the same, the local variations just don't quite measure up

rickn8or said...

Between this and the Funshow, I may have make more pilgrimages to Knox-vegas.

Hope the son, d-i-l and grandsons don't find out...

TommyG said...

I've been shopping the one in Chattanooga for many years. They'er in their third building; have about doubled the size of the store with each move, and could still use more room. I never go with the the BW without packing a lunch.

Billy Beck said...

Wow. I have lots of favorites around the country, but never saw that before. I'll keep it in mind.

Billy Beck said...

Larry: Powell's is where it's at. Never stop in Portland without checking in.

Renaissance Books in Milwaukee: three huge floors downtown and an annex at the airport. Really good military history at the annex, and everything in the world at the main store. (I found not one, but *two* copies of Robert LeFevre's "This Bread Is Mine" there.)

If any of y'all ever make it up to little ol' Dryden, The Book Barn of The Finger Lakes is in my top five in the whole country. It's amazing to me that it's only six miles away down the cow-path.

Billy Beck said...

TBBoTFL --

http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php?id=P2348

I just love this place. And Vladimir loves *me*, because I'm a kook, and he knows what's happening when he sees me coming.

Mark said...

I am very very jealous. Any chance you can browse for a certain book for me? I loaned my copy of John Steakley's Armor out, and the person I loaned it to lost it. If you can find a decent one let me know and I'll send you the $$ to get it and mail it to me.

Brick said...

@Jenny S
Check out #11

Amazon.com Reveals the Most Well-Read Cities in America

Bazinga

Larry said...

Chamblin Book Mine, Jacksonville FL. Now with two locations. There are some things I really miss about Jacksonville, this is one of them.

Tam said...

Brick,

Jenny was making a funny. She's a Vol-ey Girl herself. ;)

Brick said...

@Tam and @JennyS

I didn't mean to come across as thin skinned. I assumed she was joking and just took the opportunity to brag about how literate we are in the scruffy little town!

Tam said...

Just making sure. ;)

Anonymous said...

Always the contrarian...

As amazing as that place is - and like everyone else here I could and would kill a day and a week's pay in there - if I were in Knoxville and could only visit one bookstore, I'd prefer the one that lived and breathed in Marko's book to the megastore.

Like pretty much every other independent business, the Walmartization and web-martization of the book biz, both new and used, is irresistible, irrefutable, and irreversible.

But still sad.

AT

Tam said...

AT,

McKay's IS an independent business.

I like a crowded little storefront as much as the next kid, but sometimes looking for what I want in one can feel like drilling for oil in a dixie cup...

Anonymous said...

Old Sam would have had one believe that Wally's is just a smalltown boy made good...and I guess it is. I would be the last to argue against the "irresistible" equation of selection+price=success, and with multiple locations, warehouse layouts and necessary hirelings, McKay's has surely embraced the model; it ain't no Mom & Pop.

And for me at least, with books as with guns as with old watches, etc...the "drilling" is half of the thing. You come up dry more often than not, but it doesn't really matter.

Maybe I'm just a romantic - or more likely just old enough to remember the good in older things and ways but afflicted with enough Alzheimer's to forget the bad - but it seems less likely that one might find love, virtual or literal, in a cavernous megastore or at a keyboard than in a place where Mom and/or Pop love what they sell as much as you do.

AT

Tam said...

Sorry, AT, but I've been going to McKay's since it was a dinky hole-in-the-wall in an old branch bank building on Kingston Pike ten years ago.

I'm not gonna piss on 'em for the crime of being successful. I'll leave that to the Community Organizers. ;)

Anonymous said...

Nothing to be sorry for, Tam...the big-box model is successful with good reason; I'm as subject to its allure as anyone. May they live long and prosper.

But given the choice, I'd rather help incubate the next dinky hole-in-the-wall. Thrill of the chase and all that jazz.

As to your last reference...heh! :)

AT