Several years ago my best friend told me we were taking a road trip for my birthday. She wouldn’t tell me where we were going or what we were doing. So, that morning we hit the road, listening to some Tori, talking and laughing, and basically being silly and having a good time.
We ended up in Staunton, Virginia. We parked and took a bus to downtown where we had lunch in a cute little cafe’. After lunch we wandered through some antique shops, a very cool art studio/store, and a few gift shops. It was a wonderful, special day. Then she informed me that this was not our final destination. I couldn’t imagine what else we might be doing but we took a bus back to the parking lot, got in the car and hit the highway again.
I was basically just enjoying the beautiful view of the Shenandoah Valley and the great company when she asked me if I had figured out where we were going yet. Confused, I asked her what she meant. She pointed to a billboard coming up on the side of the road. It was for the Green Valley Book Fair. I hadn’t noticed the previous billboards and I had never heard of the book fair before but I was beyond excited as she proceeded to tell me about it.
When we finally arrived and walked inside, it was a little breathtaking. I mean, rooms full of thousands upon thousands of books. All of them 60-90% off retail price! We wandered for hours. Sometimes we wandered side by side, sometimes I’d realize I was alone and we’d meet up a few aisles later with our baskets a bit fuller than they had been before. We shopped until our baskets were so heavy our arms hurt too badly to shop anymore.
I’ve been to the book fair several times since then and I’ve shared it with my parents as well. It’s a wonderful day trip if you live in the central VA area. People come from all over the country, and the world, to visit the book fair. They are only open a few times a year. You can sign up to receive email reminders of their schedule on their website.
So what exactly is the Green Valley Book Fair? Founded in 1971, the Green Valley Book Fair is a family owned business located on a farm just south of Harrisonburg, Virgina. It’s basically a huge book warehouse outlet store! There is only one catch… they’re only open at certain times of the year for about two weeks at a time. Admission is free and there is a large parking lot on the premises. And the warehouse buildings are heated and air conditioned.
Where do the books come from? The Green Valley Book Fair specializes in publisher’s returns. Publisher’s returns are books that have been returned to the publisher by other book stores. They have three floors of showroom space, totaling over 25,000 square feet. The stock changes at every Book Fair, with new titles being added and others selling out. But, they always have a good selection of children’s books (usually over 1,000 different titles), cookbooks, history, literature, general fiction, mysteries, reference, computer books, health and self-help, audio books, science, nature, fine arts, crafts, gardening, business and more. They carry 500,000 books in hardcover and trade-size paperback. Books are discounted 60%-90% off retail, with the majority being discounted in the 66%-75% off retail range. Basically it’s a book lover’s paradise!
Here is their schedule for 2011:
March 26 thru April 10
May 14 thru 30
July 2 thru 17
August 20 thru September 5
October 8 thru 23
November 25 thru December 17
Open Only during Scheduled Dates from 9am – 7pm Daily
Open Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and Columbus Day from 9am – 7pm
Check out their website gobookfair.com for more information, including directions, nearby hotels, lists of books they are most likely to have at the next Book Fair and more. You can also find them on facebook at Green Valley Book Fair.
They accept all major credit cards and checks with proper ID. I do suggest that you take a couple of your own reusable shopping bags to carry your books home. They do have some small boxes they can put your books in, but you can fit a lot more in a big shopping bag anyway! Personally, I always take at least two…