DANSVILLE — A small town bookstore offers a bit of magic to the experience of buying your own books.


Debra Johnson, The Book Den owner, had a vision for the town she called home as she opened the used bookstore on Main Street over three decades ago.


“I wanted to bring a bookstore to the community,” she said. “We really needed one in Dansville. We opened the bookstore in November of 1985.”


Johnson would go on vacations and see small bookstores in other towns. She really loved the idea of a used bookstore in her own community.


“We started this used bookstore after being inspired by others we saw on vacation,” she said. “We listened to what people wanted when they came into the store. We have some new books here too. We mostly have used books we put into categories.”


If there is a book a customer wants that isn’t in the store Johnson can order them. She can order anything in print, even the books that are out of print. There is a certain network that helps small town bookstores with the orders.


Johnson reflects on the journey her family went on to make this bookstore dream come true 33 years ago.


“Well I grew up in Wayland, but we moved to Dansville. My mother helped me with the store until she passed away. Everyone in my family has helped with the store in some way,” she said. “This store was Montgomery ward when I bought it, and before that it was a music store. We did a lot of work on it to make it a bookstore.”


For Winter in the Village on Dec. 1 from  to 8 p.m. The Book Den will have a customer drawing for up to 20 percent off regular priced merchandise.


The unique thing about The Book Den is that there is so much more than just books. It has gifts, collector coins, jewelry, cards, photography, history, and so much more to offer.


“There are a lot of bookstores going out of business now,” Johnson said. “We have survived all these years, because we have loyal customers. Our customers become our family, and we offer something special here.”


Johnson is a big supporter of small business in the town, and wishes that things were like they used to be. She mentioned how when she opened the store there were so many things booming in Dansville.


“What is nice about small businesses is that it reflects the personality of the owner,” she said. “I have been here 33 years now, and a lot of people didn’t think we would make it. Honestly, the tourists help out a lot. They love the store more than the locals do. When they come down to Stony Brook, Letchworth Park, or the Dansville Balloon Festival they will stop in my store. Tourism is the key to keeping this store going. Several have told me they wished they had a bookstore like this at home.”


Back in the day some local children would come in for the comics, but they are not as big anymore.


Johnson added that her store has become a generational gem, because those who came in as children three decades ago are now bringing their own children.


There is also a huge local history section in the store that you won’t find anywhere else. Johnson said that local authors are always welcome as well.


“The giants like Amazon are changing everything now,” she said. “When I first opened the store we had so much here on Main Street. We had a nickle and dime store, a couple department stores, outdoor store, shoe stores, clothes stores, electrical appliances store, and much more,” she said. “You didn’t ever have to go into the big city, because you had everything you needed right here. This used to be a boom town. We were the place to go since the early 1900s.”


The Book Den is located at 174 Main Street. It is open Tuesday Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information visit them at https://www.facebook.com/The-Book-Den-LTD-1437841359786285/