I want to thank my friend Robin Scott for writing a post about Frugal Media yesterday. I even asked if I could steal her photos for this post, and she agreed. She is friends with the owners of this terrific new store, and since I am an admitted book addict, I was compelled to go check it out since I was in the area. Yes, I really was in the area, so it didn’t even require a special trip. I don’t have many vices, but books are something difficult for me to resist. I had to run an errand, and I was dressed pretty casually (okay, VERY casually), but this is Austin, so who cares, right?
I was very pleased with what I found when I arrived. I was warmly greeted by two of the workers (one of whom turned out to be the co-owner, Erik Franks). I met the other owner and CEO, Rob Canuelle, and we ended up chatting for about 45 minutes or so. He has been in the Austin area since 1980, and he and Erik started Frugal Media about five years ago. They opened their retail location about 3 weeks ago, at 5400 N. Lamar (between North Loop and Houston).
Rob explained that they have brought technology to the used book business, seriously streamlining their operations to compete head-to-head with Half Price Books. Since Half Price Books has been the biggest game in town when it comes to re-selling used books, CDs, etc., we have frequented their stores for years. My biggest complaint with their setup is twofold:
- 1. It takes FOREVER for them to give you a quote on your merchandise when you bring in a lot of stuff
- 2. The offer is usually an absolute pittance, but you don’t want to take the stuff back home, so you accept it
I mentioned to Rob that I would sincerely rather give my old (and new) books away at Goodwill or sell them at a garage sale than to take them to Half Price anymore. In fact, we stopped doing that years ago after being shamed into accepting about eight bucks for a massive stash of books and software.
Rob stated that they hadn’t yet lost anyone looking to sell merchandise at both Frugal Media and their competitor. Frugal is located very near Half Price Books’ flagship store in central Austin, and for a reason. He stated that they are far more competitive with their offers, and that I wouldn’t be disappointed.
According to the website, the concept for their business model had modest beginnings, in a dorm room at UT (much like the largest private employer in Austin now, Dell Computer).
I would love to see this business thrive, since these guys have taken an old concept and brought it into the 21st century. There are comfortable areas to sit spaced throughout the store, which has a “no frills” look. Heck, they even offered me a fresh cup of coffee “on the house”. There were also some small reading closets with comfy-looking beanbag chairs in the back left of the store, and a couple of sofas/loveseats. There are also several paintings hanging around that were original pieces by Robin’s husband, John.
If you are in the area (or even if you need to drive out of your way a bit), I would recommend checking out this innovative and fresh new store in the heart of things. It’s worth the trip.
For the record, I managed to find a new John Irving novel, one of Dennis Miller’s books, and a very interesting-looking novel called “Boomsday” by Christopher Buckley, who wrote “Thank You for Smoking”. They even gave me a free tote bag and a free cookbook as well. Can’t beat that!