The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 27, 2013

Longtime Beaver bookstore also houses Classy Tags

BEAVER — The T&C Paperback Book Exchange offers much more than books at reduced prices.

There are laser cut mirrored acrylic license plates and laser engraving on acrylic, marble, wood, stone and specialty plaques and awards. Engraved photos for cemetery monuments and memorials.

Custom license plates made to order.

T&C Paperback Book Exchange was brought from Tucson, Ariz., and opened in Beaver in October 1974 by Charles and Thelma Mays. Upon the 20-year retirement of Mays as a medic serving in the United States Air Force, the couple had a desire to return to the town they grew up in. They wanted their family to experience the same environment that they once knew as youngsters, and they wanted to be close to their parents as they aged. Reasons also included raising their son with special needs.

“The business has been a steady fixture of the Beaver area for the past 40 years,” explained son Jeff Mays, who now helps out in running the business with his father.” It is the longest serving bookstore in southern West Virginia. We’ve outlasted all of the other bookstores over the years.”

In 2003, Charles expanded the store, with his son Jeff and his wife Sylvia to open Classy Tags. This expansion includes providing laser cut mirrored acrylic license plates, which can be made to the customers’ custom request.

Thelma, with the help of Charles, has established and operated, in conjunction with the bookstore, an art gallery (Beaver Creek Art Gallery). The gallery provided classes in oil painting for years, producing some beautiful works of art by students and the instructor. Due to health reasons, the classes are winding down but the art work remains.

The couple’s longstanding policy of  “beat the high cost of reading” has followed them from Arizona, and continues strong today. “You can return your books to the store and receive 20 percent of the book price as credit toward the purchase of their books, which are priced at 50 percent off the cover price and more,” son Jeff explains. “To further help at reducing the cost of reading, we also offer bagged books at unheard-of low prices.”

There are more than 100,000 books to choose from — Westerns, romance, inspirational, religious, classics, mystery, science fiction, horror, war, nonfiction, historical and a large selection of Star Trek, Star Wars, books by West Virginians, and the latest craze: paranormal novels.

“And even though there has been a big slowdown in the book industry during the past few years, we’ve been able to hold our own and remain in business for those who actually want to hold a book in their hands, to fold, flip the pages, and have a book to place in their shelves,” Jeff explains. “Some habits are hard to break, thank goodness.°

The store is located in Beaver in a 100-year-old gray two-story building that in the past has housed everything from feed and hardware, insurance, an archery shop, and the Beaver Post Office. These were all prior to the opening of the bookstore.

Now, due to the declining health of Charles and Thelma, store hours have been limited to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays.

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