To Have and to Hold

by | Dec 1, 2010 | Community Commerce

Story by Tonda Bradley

Lynn McDaniel Wiman always dreamed of owning her own bookstore. As a young child, her mother, Doris McDaniel, an educator, read to her and stressed reading. Her mother often said that by the time Lynn was in the sixth grade, she had read every book in the town library.
When Lynn went to college, she met Johnny Wink, a literature teacher at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. He was also an inspiration to her, and furthered her love of books and literature. She also met John Allen Adams, a bookstore owner, while she was in college. John had been injured in a football accident, and was a quadriplegic, yet he ran a very successful store. This just encouraged Lynn’s dream even more.
When Lynn graduated college, she had obtained a degree in Psychology. She began a career in counseling and worked for the Department of Human Services, travelling the state for many years. Even though she did not realize her dream of owning a book store at that time, Lynn was always collecting books. She once was building a house in Ozark, and she overheard a conversation between three of the laborers.

“How come this lady has such a big pantry, How come it ain’t hooked on to the kitchen?, How come the shelves have to be solid oak?” They were, in fact, building Lynn’s bookshelves.
Lynn met a bookseller in Fort Smith by the name of Lawrence Brandenburg, who taught her the “business” side of books. She worked for Mr. Brandenburg in trade for books. Mr. Brandenburg told Lynn, “If you are going to be a used book dealer, you have to go after books like a heroin addict goes after heroin.”

When Lynn retired, she decided to move to Russellville to realize her dream.
“I chose Russellville, because my mom told me she would help me in my store, but I would have to choose a location so she could be close to her grandchildren,” says Lynn. “I found a house on Parkway and purchased the property from Ernie Crouch. His wife Peggy managed a Christian book store in town for many years.” Peggy and Ernie’s daughter Pam is a librarian at Arkansas Tech University.
“The property was so appealing because it had an apartment in the back, and plenty of room in the front for the books. It was very European. I sold everything, bought the property, and started renovating the building.”
Lynn approached Harold Barr at Liberty Bank for a small business loan.
“He took a chance on me,” states Lynn, “but he loaned me $40,000. I was able to pay the loan back in two years.”

While Lynn was making plans to start her business, she decided to visit a long-time friend, Mrs. Wilma Wiman. During the years of their friendship, Mrs. Wiman had often mentioned her son, Steve.
“At this particular visit, it was Christmas, and Mrs. Wiman offered me a piece of Brazil nut cake. That cake was so delicious. She informed me that Steve had made the cake, and I jokingly asked if she thought he would like to get married” laughs Lynn.At that precise moment, Steve was walking up the stairs and overheard Lynn make the comment about the cake and marriage.

“I had been praying for five years that the Lord would send me someone to love me for me,” says Steve. “I was in the basement at my mom’s house working and praying, when the Holy Spirit directed me to go upstairs. When I saw Lynn that day, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I was going to marry her.”
Steve’s early life had not been easy. He was born on a reservation but was adopted by the Wiman family when he was seven.
“I had a lot of hate and anger, but at the age of 44, I gave my life to Christ” states Steve. His goal now is to serve people. He is a member of the local Lion’s club and strives to help others.
“Our bookstore is the Lord’s, we are only the custodians and stewards” says Steve.
Steve and Lynn started dating on

Valentine’s Day and were married the following May.
Steve had developed his carpentry skills during the years, and he did most of the remodel work on the property.
“He built the ramp at the entrance of the building, and put in a lot of the shelves and many other projects” states Lynn. “He saved me a lot of money on the remodel process” she says.
“He does shipping, receiving, and cooking. He also goes with me to many sales around the country, including Phoenix, Des Moines, New York, New Orleans and Oklahoma City.”
Lynn says that she is asked every week about electronic books taking the place of books. Her answer is always the same.
“What was your favorite fairytale as a child?” She says that her customer’s response causes their face to light up and they are suddenly transported back in time, far, far away from her humble little used book store to that book, and a memory of a parent, a sibling or a teacher who helped make that book come alive in their heart.
Lynn’s favorite book from childhood was “The Black Stallion” by Walter Farley. Published in 1941, it was an old book when she picked it up in 1967 when she was nine years old.
She said that she learned by character Alec’s example to take chances in life, when faced with the wild, untamed, uncertain path… open the gate, and take a chance. She learned from the Black Stallion story, courage, loyalty, compassion, giving, faith, hope and love. She said all those things helped her to have the courage to step out into owning a small business 35 years later.
She said you could argue that she could have learned the same lesson by reading a Kindle, but she would not have the same experience of the beautiful old woodcut illustrations, the smell, the sound of paper crackling, the intimacy of being alone in her room in an easy chair, or under a tree by the creek turning pages.

Lynn would not have had the pleasure of seeing each page that had a beautiful hand- drawn illustration. She says she has nothing against the Kindle, she actually wants one for Christmas, but it will never take the place of a book, especially to someone who is a collector.
Steve says, “You also can’t decorate with a Kindle.”
Lynn’s and Steve’s love of books is very evident. Lynn feels that Mark Twain said it best, “The man who does not read, has no advantage of the man who cannot read.”  

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