Margaret Sorensen has owned the Book Arbor in Hurricane for over 16 years. His shop is full of used books in all genres, but his go-to section is the mystery romance genre, Hurricane, Utah, January 6, 2022 | Photo by Sarah Torribio, St. George News
HURRICANE – It’s no secret that Margaret Sorensen, owner of The Book Arbor in Hurricane, loves books. But it’s not until you stop and chat with the owner of the only used bookstore in Washington County that you realize just how much.
Her voice becomes muffled and respectful as she talks about the books that have fueled her reading habit over the years.
Growing up in British Columbia, she enjoyed reading LM Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” books, identifying with the young protagonist’s wild imagination – who lives on Prince Edward Island in Canada. – and her sincere desire to meet “a kindred spirit” who completely understands her.
As an adult, Sorensen then fell in love with the sweeping sagas of James Michiner, often based on geographical locations and spanning generations and even eons. She says he wrote great stories, with a surprising amount of detail.
“Like his book ‘Hawaii.’ It starts underwater… with how the island was built underwater and the first bird that dropped a seed on land and created a plant,” she said.
Sorensen is not originally from Hawaii but from Anaheim, California, best known for being home to Disneyland. In 2004, she and her husband retired to Hurricane.
“He was retreating to the golf course, and I don’t play golf,” she said. “I said, ‘Well, I want something fun to do and I like books. So I said, ‘I want to open a bookstore.’ »
Sorensen said she was inspired by a friend who worked at a Southern California bookstore.
“I said, ‘Where do you find the books?’ “recalls Sorensen. “She said, ‘The customers bring them.’ I said, ‘What? Do people part with their books? I didn’t know this could happen.”
The biggest challenge for Sorensen was finding a suitable place to rent. One day, after three months of searching, she decides to stop at the Mercantile antique store on State Street.
“They had it all on the sidewalk. It sounded interesting to me, so we stopped at this door after searching for three months,” she said. “And he said, ‘Suite C available.’ There was a pole in the middle of the room and a row of shopping carts, and a pile of wood leaning against the pole. I said, ‘Ah, that would be perfect.’ »
The building had a new furnace and air conditioner and the ceiling had recently been lowered. All it took to get set up was libraries. Fortunately, Sorensen’s husband felt a little guilty for spending so many hours on the bonds. He built large bookcases for the store, running all around the room, and with four more in the middle against the pole.
Sorensen then spotted a counter for sale in front of what is now HurriTan and decided she had to buy it. It was extremely heavy, requiring the combined efforts of his son-in-law and all of his teenage grandsons to lug it around the store. Sorensen’s family, which includes four children and 18 grandchildren, continued to participate in the store opening by placing books on the shelves.
“I had never designed anything myself,” she says. “And they were like, ‘Mom, where do you want this? Grandma, where do you want this? And when it was done, it was the place I had designed. Because I had put everything where it was supposed to go.
The final step was to add an arbor to the front of the store, a white trellis garden entrance – again put together by Sorensen’s handy husband – and adorned with vine fairy lights. The Book Arbor was on.
Open door policy
Sorensen’s friend from California was right about how a lot of titles end up in a used bookstore. It is often his own customers who arrive with leftovers.
“Book lovers, they don’t want to throw the book away,” Sorensen said. “They share them, they give them to all their friends and they always end up with a box at home.”
It keeps the boutique’s selection vibrant, providing reading material for local regulars or tourists heading to famous Zion National Park.
“We get visitors from all over the world, and for me it’s not just about meeting people from all over the world,” Sorensen said. “For me, it’s that we discuss books with people all over the world.”
Sorensen also shared his appreciation for the synergy between his store and his neighbors. The Book Arbor is located in a grand, historic building that also houses the Mercantile antique store and the Hurricane Flower Market. They were previously separated, with their respective doors closed until an infrastructure upgrade takes place.
When the city widened State Street from two to four lanes, the sidewalk in front of the Mercantile was removed. With the entrance to the Myka Desormier antique shop turned into a construction zone, there were only two ways to get larger items like furniture into the Mercantile: through the doors of the Book Arbor or the Auxiliary Market. flowers. Having the doors open between companies, Sorensen began to notice a wonderful camaraderie.
“I would hear, ‘Oh, you go ahead, honey. I’m going to look at some books. Husband or wife would say it, and one was a reader and the other was looking for furniture or knick-knacks,’ she said. “And all day I was hearing this. ‘Go ahead honey. I’m going to look at some books. So it was a no-brainer for me to leave the door open. But we just liked to how friendly it was.
Sorensen is particularly friendly to young visitors.
“One of my goals is to put a book in a child’s hand. For me, it’s so important,” she said. “If they’re on the floor and start turning the pages, even if they can’t read, they’re learning to read. They speak the worlds their mother read to them. And that is learning to read.
Sorensen is also struck by how older children react to the Book Arbor shelves.
“When a teenage girl walks in and she’s not on her cellphone — when he’s not on her cellphone, they’re like, ‘Ah, it smells so good in here. I love books. ” she said.
One of Sorensen’s favorite things to read when she was young was the various installations in Carolyn Keene’s “Nancy Drew” mystery series. His taste has remained somewhat constant, his favorite genre being mystery romance.
“I like a little mystery with my romance or a little romance with my mystery,” she said.
Sorensen’s own romance began around 57 years ago. She had worked in British Columbia for a few years after high school and had a friend whose parents had retired to California. The young women decided to try the Golden State. They traveled to California and got jobs, then returned to Canada to complete the paperwork and get a work visa.
Soon after, Sorensen met her husband.
find a balance
Sorensen is at the store about 38 hours a week. Busy as she is, she always finds time to indulge her own love of reading. Every day, after working six hours, she allows herself to read a book or crochet and watch a movie.
“I have to force myself to sit down because there are still things to do,” she says. “I have to remember that I am retired.”
Sorensen, who says she’s “78 and happy,” enjoys being one of Hurricane’s independent stores. If she had to do it again, she would still tell her husband that she wants to open a bookstore.
“We never, ever regretted it,” Sorensen said.
The Book Arbor is located at 21 E. State Street in Hurricane. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The phone number is 435-635-7323.
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