Thursday, October 21, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 34

Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on August 31st, 2011, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 12, Issue 26 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 12, Issue 26

The $1 Dollar Bookstore

Bonnie Sheehy, manager


I am a barbaric bibliophile,” Bonnie Sheehy said. I had to check my initial response of “Awesome alliteration!” We were already pretty deeply geeked out, and this was supposed to be a professional interview. Thankfully, we were interrupted by a customer, and I gathered my composure.

Pages and pages:
Bonnie Sheehy roams the stacks at Santa Maria Town Center’s $1 Dollar Bookstore.

Sheehy is the new manager of the $1 Dollar Bookstore in the Santa Maria Town Center, and she’s got a few novel ideas. One is that the store should have some order to it. She spent weeks organizing the maelstrom of books into alphabetized sections. She devoted three weeks alone to the fiction section. Bestsellers have been placed in the best spot, the self-help section now enables visitors to find self-help books by themselves, and there’s a textbook section that students don’t have to learn by heart to navigate.

“I also created a mystery section,” she said. “The store didn’t have one before, which is a cardinal sin in a bookstore.”

Much to her chagrin, the new arrivals still occupy a chaotic horseshoe-shaped section in the back of the shop.

Sheehy had visited the store twice previously and, rather than leaving with a horde of books, found herself frustrated by the lack of organization. When the manager position opened up, she jumped on it. She comes to the position with five years of experience at Walden Books and a love of books that goes back to childhood. She started reading at 3 and found herself coveting a family Bible that had been handed down for several generations. Her mother wouldn’t give it to her until she read a chapter book. That poor chapter book never saw what hit it. After taking possession of the Bible, she kept scaling up the size of books she read.

Contrary to popular belief, every book in the shop costs only $1. Ignore any stickers, and don’t even consider what the books would cost at another bookstore. Every book—from literature to science and kids’ picture books to college textbooks—will set you back, as the name of the store indicated, just $1.

There’s no computerized inventory system at the store, and there are no plans to acquire one. Such a move would raise the price of the books several dollars, and no book lover wants that. Instead, the shop has the next best thing: Sheehy. She said that once she’s placed a book on a shelf, she’s great about remembering where it is.

Her passion for books has led her to compile what she calls her “orphan books”: old and obscure books she finds at garage sales. They’re books she’s sure no one is going to want to buy, and she feels compelled to give them a home. We’re talking books like a late-1800s bookkeeping manual and a Tennyson from 1901.

Sheehy doesn’t go out of her way to do any advertising; she lets satisfied customers spread the word. And word is getting out. Business is up, and Sheehy is smiling. Find the $1 Dollar Bookstore on the floor level of the Santa Maria Town Center. For more information, call 352-0044.


The Santa Barbara County Ag Futures Alliance will conduct a bus tour of farming and food systems operations in Northern Santa Barbara County on Sept. 10.

The tour, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., is the third installment of the group’s Farm to Fork Series. Stops will include Betteravia Farms, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Los Adobes de Maria, and Windset Farms.

Participants must arrive by 7:30 a.m. at the Kmart shopping center, 2875 Santa Maria Way in Santa Maria. The cost is $30.

To register, visit For more information, call 866-0355.

 The Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association (SYVVA) will be holding a joint mixer with the Solvang Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hans Christian Andersen Park.

 The event will include wine tasting from local vintners, plenty of refreshments donated by Solvang restaurants and bakeries, local beers, and an olive oil tasting. Admission is free and open to current and prospective members.

Guests can also participate in a silent auction fundraiser to support SYVVA programs; items include wine, dining, touring, and other gifts. Live entertainment will be provided by area youth in the Santa Ynez Valley SoulMates Band.

Hans Christian Andersen Park is at 633 Chalk Hill Road in Solvang.

For more information, call 686-0053 or go to

Biz Spotlight was written by Intern Michael McCone. Highlights were compiled by Staff Writer Jeremy Thomas. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, e-mail, or mail.

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