It’s hard to ignore the charm of the creaking floors, bursting shelves, and the sweet smell of books–thousands and thousands of books. For 37 years, Argos Books at 1405 Robinson Rd. has been providing Grand Rapids with a literature shopping experience like no other.
“I’d say we are the oldest and largest used bookstore in Grand Rapids,” said owner Jim Bleeker.
Argos opened in 1975; Bleeker began working there 11 years later in 1986 and then eventually bought the store in 2006. The store boasts an impressive collection of books in all genres: history, popular fiction, science fiction and fantasy, art, music, religion, foreign language, cookbooks, gay and lesbian, sports, science and technology, anatomy, poetry–the list is goes on. Argos also carries posters, postcards, record albums, cd’s, even year books from local schools.
There is vast magazine collection that is comprised of vintage LIFE Magazines dating back to the 1930’s, Rolling Stone, National Geographic and more. There are also boxes upon boxes of used comics that just beg to be looked through, as well as shelves of graphic novels and new comics that are released every Wednesday.
Argos has a steady stream of regulars, some who have been coming for decades, gift shoppers, and students in search of books for class. For the ambitious student, Argos has a wealth of resources and at a fair price. While the inventory ranges from antique collectables to regular paperbacks, most of the prices are easy on the student budget. Most required reading can be found here in paperback for $2-$5, as opposed to the $12-$20 price tag at a larger chain or the school bookstore.
Regular Argos customer and former GRCC student Hollin Marie enjoys what the bookstore has to offer.
“It’s just a great place to find books,” Marie said. “When I was a student, I came here all the time to find stuff for school.”
Shopping at Argos is like going on a small excursion. Pick up a book off the shelf, and behind it, you’ll find three more; take a wrong step and you’ll hit a landmine of literature, literally, as the floor is scattered with piles and piles of books. Whole afternoons could be spent browsing the inventory, and no doubt many treasures would be found.
“I think it’s a store with a lot of character–old building, big windows, squeaky floors, and you really can find all sorts of things. It’s an experience,” says Bleeker.
Whether it’s the history student looking for truly unique source, the art student seeking a volume for reference, or the English student in search of required reading, Argos is a place for those who seek knowledge and a little adventure.