By Emily Williams
With the land around the Little Professor Book Center in Homewood bought by a developer, the store is planning to remain on the same street but move a little closer to its former location near The Curve.
Though the space Little Professor representatives have found will be new to them, the proximity to what owner Paul Seitz calls the “heart of Homewood” is familiar. When Seitz first opened the store in May 1973, the location was right on The Curve, at 2901 18th St. South, and it remained there until October 1992.
“We’ve spent 20 years on The Curve and 24 years at this location,” at 2717 18th Street South, Seitz said. “Hopefully, we’ll have 20 more years at our new spot.”
With the new location in a hub of activity, Seitz said he hopes to see his devoted customers return and some new faces filter in. The customers are Seitz’ favorite aspect of his job.
Before 1973, Seitz never considered himself a future owner of a bookstore. He was a baseball man and played professionally for the Birmingham Barons, but when it came time to find a different path, he stumbled on a franchise of bookstores.
“When I started, there were 125 locations of Little Professor,” he said. “Now there are only three locations and we are one of them, one of them is in Ohio and one is in California.”
Seitz points to the ease of internet purchasing for the diminishing of independent bookstores, but the internet can’t provide what he prides his store for offering.
Over the years, he has kept a staff of passionate people whom he defines as the best resource when looking for a book. His employees come equipped with suggestions for customers who enter the store without a clue as to what they want.
“These people are book lovers and they know everything about the product,” he said. “The people that work here are unbelievable.”
Some of the staff who will be making the move with Seitz include employees with 20 years at Little Professor and others with just two years.
After his 43 years with Little Professor – 44 years in May – Seitz admits he’s slowed down a bit, but he has no intentions of calling it quits.
“This store has been totally pleasure,” he said. “It’s wonderful to work with the clientele and see them coming back.”
Once he knew that the store would have to be moved, Seitz knew he wanted to stay in Homewood, but he considered other options. Cahaba Heights was briefly a possibility.
Seitz isn’t releasing the specific location chosen for the bookstore because the contracts aren’t yet final. But he said that, while the space is perfect for the bookstore, it will not accommodate Crape Myrtle’s Cafe.
“We did look at some places that were big enough for both of us, but it just didn’t work out,” he said.
Crape Myrtle’s Cafe owner Jim Muir stated he is currently hunting for a new location to relocate the cafe.
The opportunity arose to remain on 18th, and Seitz said he couldn’t be happier as he looks forward to what he hopes will be a new era for the store. He is especially excited to be more a part of the events that draw in foot traffic, such as the Homewood Chamber of Commerce- sponsored sidewalk sales.
To prepare for the move, the Little Professor is marking much of its current inventory 30 percent to 50 percent off. Seitz said he hopes to see folks leaving the store with armloads of literature.
“It’s not so much a liquidation sale as a ‘help us move’ sale,” he said. “We want to get rid of the stuff we have here so we can order new stock for the new store.”