More than books found at shop

Children’s book author David Carter (top and above right) was just one of the many authors who have visited Once Upon a Time bookstore. Photos by Leonard Coutin

By Hyung Seok LEE

CV Weekly Intern

When strolling through downtown Montrose, one can see numerous stores and restaurants that all form one community mall. Among the many stores, one holds incredible significance in the foothill community. Once Upon A Time is the nation’s oldest children’s bookstore and is currently owned by Maureen Palacios.

This local bookstore was established in 1966 and just recently celebrated its 43rd anniversary. It is known for hosting visits by various children’s book authors such as John Scieszka and David Shannon. Its location changed five times and the store currently resides in the center of downtown Montrose.

“A local bookstore contributes far more to the community than an online purchase. I simply hope that people could recognize Once Upon a Time as helping children develop the love to read,” Palacios said.

Palacios came into ownership of Once Upon a Time in April 2003. Previously, she worked as a human resource consultant whose primary job was laying people off she said. Though she made far more money as a consultant, she loves what she is doing now.

“I love what I can do for the kids. It warms my heart to be able to hear them laugh and smile because of reading,” Palacios said proudly.

In running a retail store in today’s economy, the sales are lower than ever, and fewer and fewer people come to their local bookstore to purchase books. Palacios describes her style of selling books as developing a personal relationship where she can recommend books and read to the children who desire to read.

Palacios believes that having a local bookstore is crucial to the foothill community because no other forum hooks students on reading. One can click on Amazon easily and get a book they are looking for; however there is no personal connection in purchasing a book. Once Upon a Time demonstrates its willingness to keep tradition alive and have a personal relationship when purchasing books.

When asked what the greatest part of running Once Upon a Time, she answered, “Seeing kids run into the stores with their moms and hearing that the book she recommended was great, and if she could recommend another one.”

Palacios wakes up everyday wondering what surprise the day will hold. Running a bookstore has not produced riches for her. However, giving up a money-making job to take on a community career is a decision she has never regretted.