I've written about Waldenbooks at Columbia Mall, and the other book store at Dutch Square Browz-a-Bit, but I've not said anything about the Dutch Square Waldenbooks, which for several years was my main book store.
Waldenbooks actually had two different locations in Dutch Square. The first one was sort of odd in that it was behind the corner of the main corridor and the first crosswalk, but not on the corner. There were two entrances to the store. One was on the crosswalk corrider before coming to the corner (where the Great Steak & Potato Co is today) and the other was on the main corridor just below Tapps (now the theaters), but the actual corner, Steak & Potato slot was another store.
The main corridor also goes markedly up hill from the crosswallk to Tapps, so the Walden's was a split-level store. If you call the crosswalk entrance the "front" (and that makes sense as they later closed off the exit to the main corridor), then the front of the store was on the ground and the back of the store was built on a platform that was, I believe, two steps up from the ground. My main interest was the science fiction rack, which was parallel to the main corridor and butted up against the raised platform forming the back of the store.
For at least one year, possibly two, I would spend one afternoon a week in the Dutch Square area while my mother would take my sister to piano lessons a couple of miles away. I had only a $0.60 weekly allowance, supplemented by $3.00 for mowing the lawn, so any actual purchase was a matter of careful deliberation and agonized tax calculation and penny counting (though it certainly helped that mass market paperbacks were still under a dollar in those years). In my hour or so of time, I would sometimes walk down to Boardwalk Plaza to peruse the Book Dispensary, but mainly I would circulate between Walden's and Browz-A-Bit trying to make up my mind.
I have strong memories of some of the books I bought at this Walden's (and in fact still have the books themselves in most cases). I recall in particular getting all of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, one at a time, with awful 70s covers, and Pyramid editions of all of Doc Smith's Skylark and Lensman books (with bad [what was it with the 70s and loss of design sense?!] but better covers as well). Covers aside, I must have read each of those books at least 20 times.
I also liked the humor section though I rarely bought anything there. One book in particular made a great impression on me as a 13 or 14 year old. I was amazed that it sat right out there in the open, and always wished I had the courage to pick it up. Buying it was out of the question, of course :-)
Later when I could drive on my own, Columbia Mall became my book hangout of choice what with Walden's on one end and B. Dalton on the other. I sort of lost track of the Dutch Square Walden's. I did know they had moved down the main corridor from their original location. The reason I heard was that the split-level store was not ADA compatible, but I don't know if that is true or not. At any rate, I found their new location less interesting than the original. What with that, moving out of town and the advent of "big box" bookstores, I doubt I was in the new store more than a dozen or so times. I didn't even hear about it when the store closed.
After Walden's, Fashion's Unlimited went into their slot, and I find it amusing to see how they stock the men's dress shirts in the old Walden's magazine display rack.
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