Grounds for Thought lets customers trade items for credit


Grounds for Thought

Some people go to Grounds for Thought for a cup of coffee, but many don’t know the store lets customers trade books, DVD’s, used LP records and comic books.

When Grounds for Thought opened in 1989, founders Sandy Wicks and her husband immediately began the trading. The Wicks acquired the idea for the store during their frequent vacations.

“We travel back and forth to the southwest and along the way we would stop at all these stores,” Wicks said. “One [of the stores] would be a bookstore and one would be a coffee shop. We would say they need to put these together and that’s how it happened.”

Wicks said when she opened Grounds For Thought more than 25 years ago, there wasn’t a place for people to socialize downtown.

“There wasn’t a place to meet and gather to have a donut,” she said.

Aside from their coffee and pastry area near the front of the store, almost the rest of the shop has shelves, stands and crates full of books, records and comics.

Customers can bring in used books to trade for book credit. After the books have been sorted and priced based on their condition as well as other factors, the amount of book credit is kept on an index card.

Sandy’s son, Kelly Wicks is the co-owner of Grounds for Thought. He said there is somewhere between 500 and 1,000 people who have trade credit in the store. The credit they have never expires.

“It’s not like if you bring in $20 worth of books you have to get $20 worth right then,” Kelly said. “We’ve had people who have been bringing in and taking out books for two decades, so it’s a running tab with these people.”

Some of the books that are not put in the store are donated to church thrift stores. Some of the books are taken to the Wood County Detention Center once a month.

Wicks will sort through nearly 1,000 books a week and has found some interesting books throughout the years.

“Some of the most unique are odd pop culture books that come in and they are from the 60s and 70s,” she said. “Some of my most [interesting books] are old vintage ones from the 1800’s. You’ll find little text and children’s books [too].”

Kelly said it isn’t always the book that is the best find.

“It’s often what we find in the books that can be interesting,” he said. “Pictures, note cards, dry flowers; all those kind of things that people use books for.”

Kelly said when customers bring in comic books they will bring in many at a time, but it is rare they are extremely valuable.

“We find comics that if they were in good shape they would be valuable, but are more of reading copies,” he said.

Senior Natalie Swiecicki has previously done the trading, and said she would do it again.

She said she thinks the reason some students don’t do the trading is because they don’t know it’s an option.

“I’ve lived in Bowling Green my whole life so I know about it, if [students] knew about it they would,” she said.

Kelly said the process is laid-back and gives the customer a wide variety of options on a smaller budget.

“They can come in with a 20 dollar bill to shop and get a couple records, a few of books, get a comic and get a cup of coffee,” Kelly said. “They can leave with a handful and it’ll be very reasonable.”