Byrnes makes career of love of books

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 29, 1999

RIDGECREST, La. — Pat Byrnes might be considered a worm by some standards, but rather than squirming through dirt, she digs through books — piles and piles of them. Byrnes has been buying used books at Baker’s Book Bug for 10 years.

Although she has always been an avid reader, the beginning of Byrnes’ story is no fairy tale.

After Byrnes’ husband died, her sister, who owns a used book store in Sikeston, Mo., convinced Byrnes to turn the page and open a store of her own.

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&uot;I got so tired of fighting her that just out of desperation for something to do,&uot; Byrnes said she opened Baker’s Book Bug.

&uot;Once my son and his friend built the shelves, there weren’t any customers,&uot; she said. &uot;It took about two and a half years, and it hurt. I’m not lying to you, I would sit here and cry. I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life.&uot;

Then Byrnes met her second husband, George.

&uot;He’s a fighter, and he said, ‘We’re gonna make this work.’ Anything that goes wrong – he takes care of it,&uot; Byrnes said.

Now Byrnes credits U.S. 84 West outside her front door for making her shelves a little more interesting.

&uot;The way I pick up things is from customers from out of town, friends and relatives of people who live in Ferriday and Vidalia,&uot; she said.

She even has traders who come from Baton Rouge and Monroe.

&uot;We have a trading policy that’s a little unique. We take any book that’s brought in the store and give credit for it,&uot; said Byrnes, who knows all of her regular customers.

Byrnes’ story took another turn recently when she had to undergo heart surgery three months ago. &uot;I’m doing great … I plan to hang on here as long as I feel good and enjoy it,&uot; she said.

Now Byrnes shares some of the work load with Lori Norris, who was a loyal customer for about four years.

&uot;You need young ideas,&uot; said Byrnes, who admits that her love for the books is what keeps her going. &uot;I fell in love with it. It’s not a big money making deal at all.&uot;