Bookstores are a dying proposition—anyone will tell you that Amazon has gobbled them all. But Ken Sanders would beg to differ.
Enter his bookstore, carefully, between rows of old books stacked on the floor up to eye level, and it’s likely you’ll see Ken himself, seated on a sagging sofa amid more piles of books, sporting his white ponytail and looking like a stray Santa Claus who lost his red suit. He’ll be talking intently with a customer or an old friend, usually both in one, about books. And there’s no need to hesitate, just interrupt and say hello.
Except for the new old books that haven’t been sorted yet, the shelves are organized loosely in the usual way, but some sections—Utah and Mormon history, Beat authors, fine photography—are disproportionately large.
Sanders was a friend of Utah cult hero Edward Abbey, and besides books to sell, he has tales to tell. His store is a place to chat and browse for treasure—of odd but affordable editions. You can look at prints by local artists and flip through the stacks of antique postcards and posters dating from the 19th century to the 1960s. It’s a place to immerse yourself in the delights of real shopping, which can be an exercise in discovery, and thumb your nose at Amazon and the many malls that cast shadows on your neighborhood.
Ken Sanders Rare Books
268 S 200 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Editor’s note: This article is one in a series highlighting Small Business Saturday, a U.S.-nationwide event that encourages shoppers to buy locally on Saturday, Nov. 29. SUCCESS is celebrating by showcasing some of our favorite small businesses around the country—what makes them special to us, why we keep coming back and why we want them to stick around. Will you join the movement to support your favorite neighborhood shop?