AIMEE ENGLAND - hard times in the book business

Currently the unemployment rate in

Hillsdale County is 17.3 percent.
It has been over 12 percent
since Christmas time.

Every day, we hear about more local lay-offs
and business closings, and there are many
small lay-offs that happen quietly
— six people in a fifty-person shop, that are not "news."

A bookworm's refuge

By Julie Ryan
Collegian Reporter

The smell of books is inviting. A copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, published in 1965, tops off a mound of books waiting to be shelved. Two chests of drawers are filled with vintage postcards. Political election pins dating back to the 1940s sit in a basket on the floor. The upper level of Volume One Books welcomes anyone willing to search and find peculiar treasures.

Many students have wandered around the first floor of Volume One, and get lost among the books. The second floor has a variety as well—some obscure, others famous, such as a paperback copy of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1925.

The books are everywhere, said Aimee England, store manager.

“We still get overrun with books,” she said. We have piles and boxes everywhere and different hings going on.”

All the books are sitting, waiting to be read.

But the second floor is a treasury of much more. There are pamphlets on theater, religion, war—most of them vintage and very affordable. Mixed among the small books for children are popup books, such as Alice in Wonderland.

A small room holds a stash of records ranging from the Beach Boys Super Hits from 1978—as seen on TV—to German Beer Drinking Music.

England said the bookstore attracts a fair amount of college students, whom she welcomes with conversation. It is a perfect place to spend time on a Saturday afternoon, a group of freshman girls discovered.

“I’ve lived [in Hillsdale] my whole life and I’ve never stopped in, so I figured why not,” said freshman Sandra Pooley.

England has been the store manager of Volume One for 18 years. It was started by Richard Wunsch over 20 years ago. There is also a resident cat, Monica, 18, who never leaves the store and sleeps the days away.

The books are acquired by England and Wunsch at estate sales, book sales and by trading. Paperbacks range from $1.50-$4 and hardbacks range from $5-$500. The bookstore is located at 96 N. Broad Street in Hillsdale.

The Hillsdale Collegian, "Michigan's Oldest College Newspaper"

Sept. 7, 2006

It was neat to see generations of families
who were customers of the bookstore come in,
grandparents, parents, adult children, and then their kids.
Secondly, working at the boosktore
the great thing for me
was buying and sorting books.
It was a lot like Christmas every day.

"I grew up in house
full of books and readers."

A book about the Hillsdale scandal
had been a good seller at the bookstore
of Richard Wunsch and Aimee England.

Volume One Books reopened Monday after being closed for several months.
Twenty-year employee Aimee England will no longer be employed with the local book store.
Hillsdale Collegian

New American Dream Interview

AIMEE ENGLAND, 40, lives in Hillsdale Michigan.

She used to work at Volume I bookstore. She now is unemployed, looking for work and starting her own business selling books from home.

She was born in San Francisco, but was raised in Lansing, Michigan. She went to school at Lansing Christian High School and Jackson Community College night school.


THE NAD Trivia Question:

To win something, be caller number sixty-eight to correctly answer the following.

Aimee England's bumper sticker says:

a. Jail Bush
b. 911 Was An Inside Job
c. Save The People
d. No bumper stickers
e. No car, bicycle, with no stickers.

BTW, I currently have no bumper stickers.


NAD: Aimee, hello, welcome.

How long did you work at the bookstore? Where is Hillsdale? What are your plans now?

I worked at the bookstore for 22 years.

I hoped someday to transition to owning it, but the negiotiations for me buying the business broke down.

Hillsdale is the largest town (and County Seat) in Hilllsdale County, which is located at the bottom of the palm of Michigan's Mitten. Hillsdale County borders both Northwestern Ohio and Northeastern Indiana. We are about an hour an half from most major cities in our region and halfway between Chicago and Detroit.

My plans now are to find a job that provides a steady paycheck and to work at starting my own bookstore, and book business.

I have been searching unsuccessfully for local employment and continue to do so.

In the interim, I have started my own business, A. England Books & Ephemera/Hillsdale Community Books.

While I do not yet have an open shop, I am working towards that. Currently I am selling books on line on Amazon, Ebay, and other online venues and doing book fairs in the region to build my business. My business plan is simple: Work Hard, Sell Books, Make Money. Reinvest in my business and my community.

NAD: Do people read?

Will the bookstore perhaps re-open after the winter? What reaction have you had from former customers about the closing?

Lots of independent bookstores are closing or having a tough time. Why is that?

Do you think it's always been that way or is it a new problem?

Yes, people still read, although all our media sources are changing.

I did not expect the bookstore to reopen, but the owner has re-opened, however I was not offered my job back, essentially I was forced out citing economic circumstances.

The owner has rehired one person who worked there with me and another person.

The reaction from former customers is far reaching. Just this last week, I attended a funeral visitation, and another memorial service, and at both customers asked me what happened, and what was going on, and expressed their sympathy as well.

It is hard for me emotionally, because every day I run into someone who asks me about the bookstore, because I not only worked in this community, I also live here and am pretty active locally.

The owner of the bookstore, works five days a week driving taxi in another town about eighty miles away (Ann Arbor) and lives about forty miles away and is really only in Hillsdale about one day a week. It has been especially hard and frustrating because just about everyone in town thinks that since the bookstore has re-opened that I am still working there.

NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?

We don't ask this to make fun. We ask because we really seek the answers.

Are UFOs real?
Did we land on the moon in 1968?
Did Bush knock down the towers?
Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?
Is Bigfoot real?
Is there a God?

... What makes you think that?

Yes, I believe that there is a God.

I believe that God works in many mysterious ways and that each person relates to God in their own way, be through an organized religion or whether one sits in the forest and talks to trees.

Your God might be different than my God, but yes I believe there is a God.

One thing that makes me think that is that I have trusted God at times in my life and I know that he has provided for me, whether it's revealing an overlooked piece of paperwork at just the right time, or helping me keep a roof over my head, I know that God provides for me in many ways.

This is my personal belief and it works for me. I do not believe that it should work for everyone, and nor do I want it too.

NAD: What is your passion today?

When you woke up this morning, what did you feel you had to get done before supper time? Lunch time? Breakfast?

My passion now is to establish my own business and do something that moves me forward every day.

I have recently started writing poetry again, currently I am working passionately to keep my home from being foreclosed on, something that started happening even before I was fired from my job at the bookstore.

My passion is security, financial and mental for myself in all aspects of my life.

I am also passionate about my community, and local politics and events.

NAD: Please choose one of these to answer, or offer an opinion.

What caused the current financial crisis?

Why is the price of gas going down?

The price of gas is going down because OPEC controls the distribution and wants to keep in the good graces of consumers.

In Hillsdale County, typically the gas is higher than the surrounding areas sometimes by ten cents or more within twenty miles.

NAD: Are you a reader? Have you always been?

What was great about working in the bookstore? What is your favorite book? Writer?

Are you a writer?

Yes, I am reader and book collector.

I have always been a reader. I grew up in house full of books and readers. My uncle was a rare book librarian, who was a main inspiration. My family is not only a family of book readers, but of newspapers. I still read five newspapers a day (bought at the store) and more online. My earliest memory is being in family house surrounded by books.

The great thing about working the bookstore was two-fold, first meeting the customers, and helping them to find books they became passionate about.

It was neat to see generations of families who were customers of the bookstore come in, grandparents, parents, adult children, and then their kids.

That was inspiring.

Secondly, working at the boosktore the great thing for me was buying and sorting books. It was a lot like Christmas every day.

New books to see and look at and research and learn about, what could be more interesting?

To me it was great job, and I loved it, and I really miss it, but I am still a bookseller.

I have too many favorite books. Some that have inspired me are Illusions by Richard Bach, and his other books.

Also, Larry McMurtry is one of my favorite writers, and I collect first editions of his books, and I love children's books. One of the authors I collect is Jane Yolen, who was written a great many books, and I have challenged myself to work on a complete collection of her titles. I like to read everything: biographies, fiction, history and politics.

I am an occasional writer. I am not dedicated as some who write a hundred pages daily, but I think that my mind sees life as a story in a lot of ways.

I did write community columns for the local paper for a few years, but they wanted "fresh voices." I have written poetry since I was in high school, much of it unpublished, but that's something I am working on as well, during this transition period, maybe submitting my writing to various publications and working more at it.

NAD: What else would you like to add? What else should I have asked?

Currently the unemployment rate in Hillsdale County is 17.3 percent. It has been over 12 percent since Christmas time.

I would like to speak again about the local business closings, not only the bookstore, but what is happening in towns all over the Midwest and U.S. Every day, we hear about more local lay-offs and business closings, and there are many small lay-offs that happen quietly — six people in a fifty-person shop, that are not "news."

This last year has been the worst I can recall since I have lived in Hillsdale County, with a business closing almost weekly, and those who are left are struggling in the local economy, which was once very dependent on auto parts manufacturing.

The agencies that are positioned to help workers are limited and overworked with amount of unemployed, and the numbers are much larger than people think. There are also many underemployed, and many who are 'displaced' or "discouraged' workers, those who have fallen off the unemployment benefit rolls, but who are still out of work and looking for work and struggling.

Many in our area have to reinvent themselves. We use the phrase "create your own job."

Whether it's lawn care or building a home business for example. But all of this effects the mental health of a community. There have been more suicides, more domestic violence, more crime,
but it is easy to become depressed about not being able to find a job, or about the lack of financial prospects, and foreclosures.

In a community like ours, everyone has to work extra hard to be and present a positive perspective.

Good people are losing their homes every day and not just in big cities, in small communities much like the one where I live.

People ask me why I have not moved to another more prosperous state or area, but the reality is that I have built a life here in this community, and I believe it very much.

I have a house here that does not have a large chance of selling in the current climate, and my friends and family are in the area for the most part.

Hillsdale and Hillsdale County is a really good place to live in a great many ways. Every area has it's drawbacks, and local politics, so you just have to learn how to navigate the issues. Hillsdale is a great place to come home to, quality of life is pretty good and the cost of living is not high.

I not only believe in Hillsdale, I am committed to building my new future here.

NAD: Please insert a link here to something you would like linked to, with a brief tag re: where that link goes:

This is my new website for my own business, but it's still under construction.

Folks can e-mail me at



THE New American Dream Feature Interviews

If you search the archives below, you will find, in a sort of order [last to first], interviews with:

Al Markowitz, poet for the working woman & man

Timbre Wolf,
a Tulsa peace minstrel goes to Hawaii

Steven Stothard,
a radical grows in Indiana

Dale Clark, an artist in the desert

Jacqui Devenuau, Green Party organizer in Maine

Don Harkins, co-editor of The Idaho Observer

Stewart Bradley, independent film producer

Rick Smith, Cleveland area radio host

William P. Meyers, independent book publisher, political activist

Ian Woods, Canadian publisher, 9/11 Truth activist

Richard D. Brinkman, Edmonton, Canada 9/11 Truth

Lynn Berg, New York City actor

Alejandro Rojas, of MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network

Brian Kasoro, publisher of The Liberator magazine

Brother Raymond, walked from Denver to D.C., for truth

Korey Rowe, one of the producers of Loose Change

Dave Zweifel, editor of The Madison Capital Times

Cathleen Howard, expatriate, from Tucson to Mexico, to pursue her dreams

Sander Hicks, Brooklyn radical entrepreneur, writer, publisher

Joe Bageant, America's blue-collar author

Frida Berrigan, a lifetime of faith, hope and love

Denise Diaz, brewing up a revolution, at The Ritual Cafe in Des Moines

Deanna Taylor, Green Party activist, teacher, in Salt Lake City

Rossie Indira-Vltchek, writer, filmmaker in Jarkarta, Indonesia

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Pacifica reporter in Gaza

Delaney Bruce, Friends of Peltier

Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs

Michael Sprong, South Dakota Catholic Worker

Brian Terrell, Des Moines Catholic Worker

Bob Graf
, One of the Milwaukee 14

Loren Coleman, Bigfoot researcher

Monty Borror, Sci-Fi artist from Virginia

David Ray, Great American Poet

Jack Blood, radio show host, in Austin, Texas

Danny Schechter, A Real Reporter

Bob Kincaid, host, Head-On Radio Show

Tony Packes, Animal Farm Radio Host, Keeping An Eye on Big Brother

Richard Flamer, Working With the Poor in Chiapas

David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Truth activist author

Barry Crimmins, U.S. comedian, author, social activist

Bret Hayworth, political reporter for the Sioux City [IA] Journal

Lisa Casey, publisher of website All Hat No Cattle

Joe & Elaine Mayer, activist couple in Rochester, Minnesota

Fr. Darrell Rupiper, U.S. priest revolutionary

Whitney Trettien, MIT student, Green Party activist

Meria Heller, radio show host

Phil Hey, professor, poet

John Crawford, book publisher

Steve Moon, Iowa Bigfoot researcher

Carol Brouillet, California social activist, 9/11 Truth

Russell Brutsche, Santa Cruz artist

Kevin Barrett, professor, radio show host, 9/11 Truth activist

A'Jamal Rashad Byndon, social activist in Omaha

Chris Rooney, Vancouver, Canada Catholic Worker, website publisher

Marc Estrin, political novelist, from the left

Peter Dale Scott, poet, professor, author, activist

Anthony Rayson, anarchist zine publisher, works with prisoners

Alice Cherbonnier, editor of The Baltimore Chronicle, an independent newspaper

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