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A book store, and so much more PDF E-mail

by James Hanson

Acouple’s love for literature and experiences teaching young children led to an atmosphere full of color, books and toys for young and old alike inside Susan’s Books and Gifts.

Stu and Susan Williams have always enjoyed literature. Susan, an Aurora native, helped her mother and father when she was younger by helping with their book ministry, which mailed out books to those in need as well as placed books in various locations along the interstate. She previously taught middle school in Arkansas, Minnesota and California.

Her husband lived in the Congo of Zaire as a child before moving to "Chicago Cub" territory. He taught science and math in Arkansas, Minnesota, California and Nebraska at both the high school and college levels.

Stu’s love of classic literature and his readings and interest are all part of the Great Books program at the store, located at 1124 13th St. in downtown Aurora. Susan’s love and knowledge of children’s books and experiences working with different levels of development is reflected in the Kidz Zone.

The couple moved back to Aurora to help her parents with their book ministry. Upon returning home, she said she realized a need for a book store in Aurora.

"I thought it would be something the community could really benefit from," Susan recalled. "My husband and I love books and thought it would be a wonderful business venture."

In October 2001, Stu and Susan opened the store.

Stu orders the books while Susan orders the toys and gifts.

"Our goal was to have a store where kids could come in and play and be encouraged to read," she said. "The parents could sit and read a good book and enjoy a cup of coffee. We really work hard to make it be a place for everyone."

Inside Susan’s Books and Gifts, consumers will find a variety of gifts, books and toys.

All of the gifts are wrapped at no charge. The store also does local deliveries in Aurora and will drop-ship items to a friend or relative at no charge.

Several classic, educational and developmental toys can be found inside the Kidz Zone.

Avid readers of all genres should be able to find something of interest as there is a diverse inventory at Susan’s Books and Gifts. Mysteries, fiction, classics, biographies, poetry, local interest, cookbooks, journals and more, can be found on the shelves of the cozy book nook.

Susan special orders twice weekly and can usually get books in within a week, with free shipping available on special orders picked up at the store.

There’s also a small private reading and study area available for readers who want to check out some books over a cup of coffee or parents who want to relax while their children play.

Since opening, Susan said she has added an Internet site at www.susansbooksandgifts.com and started a weekly e-mail newsletter, which is sent to members across the United States. The website features more about the owners, the store and all of the items it has to offer and now includes a slideshow Susan puts up showcasing the different kids who come in to play.

"The newsletter is a great behind-the-scenes look at Susan’s Books and Gifts and lets people know what’s going on here," she said.

She said it wasn’t easy to do at first.

"I never really considered myself a writer," she said. "It’s been challenging to make something that people will read and help inspire them. I want to make sure it’s worth their time to read. It helps us pay attention to the little things that are beautiful and important to each of us in life."

She said seeing kids being overjoyed and excited, leaving the store happy is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job.

"It’s a really great feeling seeing their faces light up," she said. "I’ve also enjoyed the numerous friendships I have made over the years through the store. You get a chance to see how a book can impact someone else’s life. It’s amazing how many books we’ve gone through."

"Even if someone doesn’t purchase something while visiting the store, they should know there’s a good chance they will be leaving with a book," she added. "I have a weakness. I gave out almost 500 books last year and I’m always determined to find the right book for any situation."

Susan said everyone who comes in has a story to tell.

"We may not know each other’s story, but we all have one," she said. "I find that exciting and interesting about this job. I get to help others with whatever they are needing at that time in their life."

She said uses a music analogy after reading the "Christmas Box" by Richard Paul Evans, particularly after this quote: "At times I wish it were within my power to reach forth my hand and stop the moment, but in this I err. To hold the note is to spoil the song."

"Life is like a classical song," she said. "Classical songs are composed of many movements. Each of these movements is composed with the intent of portraying feeling and meaning. If we just keep playing (living) the minor section which portrays loss, sadness, grief, frustrations and pain, it will eventually change into a completely new movement. We must keep going. You never know when you will turn the page of your life."

"Our goal is to not just be a place for coffee and play but a ministry where literature truly does impact the lives of people in Aurora and its surrounding communities," she added. "I want to make it worth people driving 45 minutes to get here."

Susan said she would like to add new items and features to the store, such as more music, math and science books in the kids section and eventually, a large print section.

She said the business’s success can be easily attributed to the community.

"Our business community is very loyal and supportive," she said. "They desire to see everyone succeed and do well for themselves."

"Also, many people chose to shop here locally," she added. "Many parents and grandparents will buy birthday presents here. Technology has also helped, as it has for most businesses today. It allows me the ability to keep people informed and in the loop on what’s going on at Susan’s Books and Gifts. I also appreciate the moms who work for me. It makes my job so much easier. I’m very fortunate to have so many people willing to help."

Susan’s Books and Gifts is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and open late on Thursdays until 7 p.m.

For more information, go to their website at www.susansbooksandgifts.com or e-mail Susan at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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