A New Hole for Bookworms

David Merahn, 26, works to prepare Broken Shelves bookstore for Friday’s soft opening. Merahn said he wants to create a place where creative and engaging minds can hang out and socialize.

At the Broken Shelves bookstore last week, tattered copies of dog-eared paperbacks overflowed from cardboard containers as hundreds of boxes packed the store.

Friday, the downtown bookstore, located at 101 SE Second Place, Suite 119, will have about 3,000 books neatly filed on shelves awaiting the curious stroke of a browsing customer’s fingers.

David Merahn, the 26-year-old owner of Broken Shelves, moved to Gainesville in October.

As he began spending most of his time downtown, he realized there wasn’t an independently owned used bookstore. He was determined to start one.

“There’s a need,” he said. “We’ll see if there’s a demand, but there’s definitely a need.”

Merahn’s store will offer a broad collection of genres ranging from fantasy and fiction to philosophy and poetry.

Merahn said he hopes to provide a “pretention-free zone” where customers can, theoretically, break off a shelf of books from the store and put it in their homes.

To diversify itself, the store will serve tea, wine and other beverages, maintain late hours and act as an alternative social setting, Merahn said.

The space will also be used as an art gallery, a place where customers can give lessons on skills such as ceramics and pottery and as a creative, social hub for customers who work late into the night, he said.

“I wanted to have a dedicated later-night space of time for them to work in the environment where people are making things, so there’s lots of feedback with creating,” Merahn said. “It’s a space where in the night they can come, and if they’re writers, they can write, and if they’re drawers, they can draw.”

Natalie Foster, a 19-year-old UF astrophysics sophomore, said Broken Shelves will be a welcomed addition to the downtown area.

“I think that [the Gainesville community] could appreciate something that’s diverse and something that fits everybody,” she said. “I think downtown combines a lot more people apart from the university, so they’ll get a good mix.”