This Tucson bookstore was founded before Amazon. 33 years later it is flourishing | Attendees

Tricia Clapp (left) and her sister Bobbe Arnett were both lifelong readers when they opened Mostly Books on East Broadway and North Wilmot Road 33 years ago.

Bill Finley

Bill Finley Special for the Arizona Daily Star

With Mostly Books celebrating its 33rd anniversary this weekend, it’s only natural to look back on the hours of strategic planning, market research, and trend analysis that convinced Bobbe Arnett to start a bookstore.

“Oh yes, it was very scientific,” laughs Arnett. “The truth is, I took an aptitude test at Pima College. When it came back it said I should be a bookstore manager or a forester. I thought I would look silly in a ranger hat, so … “

On September 13, 1988, Arnett and her sister Tricia Clapp opened Mostly Books near the corner of East Speedway and North Wilmot Road.

Today, Mostly Books is the second largest independent bookstore in Tucson with 3,400 square feet and an inventory of 100,000 books. Shoppers can browse new and used books, greeting cards, clothing, and gifts. Chances are they’ll also feel the energy coming behind the counter.

Despite the virus, despite Amazon, despite the challenges booksellers have faced everywhere over the past 18 months, Mostly Books continues to be a busy place. It is home to five local book clubs, all of which are open to new members by calling the store. The “Book Lover’s Surprise” program is modeled on the wine clubs. Instead of a bottle, the readers receive a surprise book every month.

Most books were never closed during the pandemic and offer roadside pickup during the year-long quarantine and lockdown. The store hopes to resume its readings and book signings soon.


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