Whenever I went back to Lawrence through much of the Nineties I volunteered at Adventure Bookstore on Massachusetts Street. Perhaps I did this out of guilt for shoplifting so many books there in the Eighties. They paid me in books, so I like to think I was just going legit with them, the same way Wayne Martin moved from selling drugs to selling discount furniture. The ends might have been the same—I still got my books, Wayne Martin still got people to pay him for things they didn’t necessarily want—but at least we were both now operating above-board. My volunteer work and Wayne Martin’s prime downtown location came tumbling down in one fell swoop when Borders came to town. They bought the entire block of New Hampshire Street that the Kansas Furniture Factory Outlet shared with other local businesses, and Wayne Martin moved his business further away from downtown and closer to the railroad tracks. Then the whole block was razed and Borders opened in November of 1996, at the advent of the Christmas selling season when independent booksellers typically make at least half their yearly profits and get out of the red for the year. Adventure and three other downtown bookstores closed by the spring.

Just added to The List and the Story: Out of the Nineties

AuthorJohn Proctor