Defunct Books Enjoys New Life in Sycamore Mall Location

With a help of a few friends and some hard work, owner Gregory Delzer was able to move Defunct Books away from the soon to be shambles of its former building on East Washington Street to its new location in the Sycamore Mall.


owner Gregory Delzer said the ratio is about 30 to 70.

Of the people who have come in to visit him so far, he says about 30 percent want to commiserate with him about losing his old location, while 70 percent say they are just happy to have a book store in the Sycamore Mall again.

"I've been getting good feedback so far," Delzer said while sitting behind his counter surrounded by stacks of books, CDs and DVDs that customers have sold to him. "It has been busier than I expected it would be."

He said he doesn't know where where he's going to put it everything, though. It's been that sort of week.

Delzer opened in his new Sycamore Mall location on Feb. 3 after a whirlwind move from his old location at 521 East Washingon Street, the building that housed both his used bookstore and the that was in order to make way for a high density apartment building.

Delzer said that just five days earlier, on Jan. 29, he was rushing to move his last items out of the building that was being prepped for demolition. He said the crews were removing water piping above the room he was in while he packed, spilling water on his books.

"I voiced my displeasure about that," Delzer said.

But now, with the help of about 20 of his friends and many, many hours of work, Delzer has opened in his new location. Even with a bitter taste in his mouth from the way the building demolition was handled, he says he's ready to move on.

"Ultimately, I think this is going to end up being a good move for me," he said.

Part of that move includes a vastly larger space, 950 sq. feet in his old space versus 2500 sq. feet now. Appropriately enough for a used book store, the space that Delzer is in now used to be a book store, Walden Books, which has been vacant for some time now. 

Delzer said the increased space will allow him to offer more popular and different varieties of books, allowing him to cater to his clientele as he learns what they're looking for.

"The benefit of me being an independent business owner is that I will listen to what my customers are looking for," he said. "What's here is going to be determined by what sells."

Delzer said on the downside he is going to miss being a part of the downtown art scene, which is the unavoidable consequence of moving away from the University.

Still, he said he's already adapting to the new location. He's getting gift cards soon (seemed like a mall thing to do), and catering to Kirkwood students and the elderly residents who like to use Sycamore as a walking mall.

Plus, he isn't giving up on bringing culture to where he's at, saying that he's already hosted a reading, and that he wants to host more soon. His next readers, he said, are poets from Michigan who are both excited and daunted at the prospect of reading poetry in a mall space.

"This area, this neighborhood, can support retail," Delzer said. "I just hope people can check out the space and see what they think. Hopefully they'll like it."

As if on cue, a woman paused at the register after buying a book.

"It's great to have a bookstore here again," she said.

"That's one of the 70 percent," Delzer said after she walked off, a smile on his face.


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