Old-school works for me, every time
I hadn’t been up to Bruised Apple Books & Music in a few months.
But I was back this morning.
Instead of “just browsing” â€” sorry, couldn’t resist â€” I was there to take an even closer look since it’s going to be my “Shop of the Week” for next week.
And the minute I opened the door of the Peekskill shop, its charms hit me again.
It just smells “old” â€” in a good, good way.
It’s that vaguely papery, vaguely dusty “something in the air” that took me right back to times spent poking around my grandmother’s bookcases when we were growing up… the books stored in old glass-fronted cases on her porch.
You walk in and the old hardwood floors kind of creak, again in a good way.
You look up to see original tin ceilings, details too often lost over years of so-called improvements and updates.
And a close-up… sorry, you know I’m a geek when it comes to all things vintage:
Well, those are some of the elements that create the fitting setting for owner Scott Sailor’s stock â€” we’re talking some 50,000 books (not to mention DVDs, videos, vinyl and random things like postcards, maps, prints and a few shirts).
And one of the nicest things is it’s all spread out over some 2,000 square feet.
It’s by design, so you don’t get that “claustrophobic feeling” so many other used-book shops have, Sailor said.
Originally from northern New Jersey, Sailor spent some seven years collecting his initial inventory, even working in a book store for six months to gain experience.
It all allowed Sailor to open in 1993 with a depth that let customers know he simply wasn’t someone who ran to the Salvation Army, bought up their books and opened for business.
Sailor came to Peekskill to check the city out on the advice of a friend who had read some work by local author T.C. Boyle, set in the region. (Kind of fitting for a book store, right?).
Sailor said he came up over the Bear Mountain Bridge, liked what he saw and that was that.
Today, he heads up what he considers “a browser’s bookstore.”
And it truly is. There is James Joyce and Jackie Collins, Asian fiction and auction catalogs, Mark Twain, Martha Stewart and a book on “advanced witchcraft.”
There are seats scattered throughout, inviting you to settle in â€“
and the posts throughout the store feature a quirky mix of newspaper headlines, old paperback covers, cartoons and pictures.
You can easily spend a half hour â€” or two hours or more, making your way slowly from natural history to math, literature to photography, art to history… you get the idea.
I just happened to pull out “Little Men” by Louisa May Alcott, a 1947 edition for $4.50.
The payoff? This illustration on the inside cover â€”
Sailor says there are some 250 different subject headings, which reflect his background and ever-changing interests.
“It helps to be a bit of a dilettante throughout your life,” he said with a laugh.
Sailor said there’s not a typical customer but rather an eclectic mix, from kids who he knows should be in school when they pop in to older folks who need a little help going up the (few) stairs.
“It hasn’t changed all that much,” Sailor told me.
Well, at the beginning there was a cafe, but he abandoned that after a couple of years. The music, especially the vinyl, has grown like he didn’t imagine it would.
“We started out with just a couple of little boxes,” he said.
Now, the music and movies fill a full room:
While Bruised Apple specializes in rare, used and out-of-print books, there are new books, too â€” when they relate to the Hudson Valley.
“Anything local, I’ll try to stock new,” Sailor says.
Overall, the books, he says, range from the 1600s to … well, there’s no limit, as there are even review copies of upcoming releases on offer.
Prices, as you can imagine, vary and range from the three-for-$1 selections out front:
to much more for highly collectible editions. Most books, Sailor said, fall in the $2 to $12 range.
And when you need that gift for someone hard-to-buy-for?
My favorite things included the “Dancing with Your Dog” instructional video ($4.50), “The Truth About Fonzie” paperback ($3) and the box of old postcards.
“Visit the world through the rectangle of an antique postcard” the sign on the box says, and for 50 cents you can dip in and pull out a scene from Bruges or another from Onondaga Park in Syracuse.
And one thing that really got me laughing? There’s a section on performing arts, from opera to theater.
I can think of a few people who could use a book on that, ha!
I didn’t have time to shop this morning, but my visit certainly made me want to go back â€” soon.
I mean without being in a stuffy, high-end shop where else can you see something so evocative of the past?
And be sure to say hi to Sailor, who’s happy to talk books and music but is also well-versed on topics ranging from the Putnam County Trail to vintage cars. He’s got a laid-back style, casually checking in with customers, many who are regulars.
“We’re chit-chat central, that’s what we are,” he said. “Sometimes it’s like a ‘Seinfeld’ episode with all the characters…”
Stop by and see what you think â€” Bruised Apple’s easy to find, since it spills out onto the street:
Bruised Apple Books & Music is open every day at 923 Central Ave. Call 914-734-7000.