Dallas-based Half Price Books, which closed its Waco store in 1991, will open an outlet shop at Waco and Valley Mills drives to sell books shipped from Half Price locations around the state, the chain has confirmed.

Half Price Books, which has 124 stores in 17 states, signed a lease on 12,000 square feet between Guitar Center and the Mardel Christian and Education store in the shopping center that also includes Practically Pikasso, Jason’s Deli and La Bella Salon and Beauty Lounge.

Waco real estate agent Pat Farrar markets the center and negotiated a deal with the discount bookseller on space most recently occupied by a seasonal store selling Halloween merchandise.

“This will be a bare-bones location featuring books stacked on tables, and we hope to open sometime in December. It will be stocked with books now stored in warehouses across Texas,” company spokeswoman Emily Bruce said.

The shop plans “to sell a little bit of everything, with prices starting at $2,” Bruce said.

She said the chain will convert the space into a more traditional Half Price Books store during the first quarter of 2018. Until then, the outlet will not buy books from the public as many of the chain’s stores routinely do.

“We closed our last store in Waco in 1991, but obviously it is a growing and emerging market, and we’re looking at new locations,” Bruce said. “This will be our fifth outlet store, with others in Rockford, Illinois; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Bloomington, Indiana; and Olympia, Washington.

She said the chain, which was founded in 1972, plans to open additional stores next year in the Chicago and Cincinnati markets.

“I think it’s great they are coming back to Waco. They were here in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and competition is healthy. There are so few book stores in town,” said Billy Haney, a longtime staffer at Golden’s Book Exchange on Franklin Avenue in business for nearly 40 years. “We were here the first time they were here, and we will be here the second time.”

Haney said that despite the closings in recent years of Books-A-Million at Central Texas Marketplace and the Hastings multimedia superstore at Bosque Boulevard and Valley Mills Drive, Golden’s continues to hold its own, primarily thanks to loyal customers and good management.

“Our business this year actually is better than last year,” he said, adding Golden’s sells paperbacks at half price and hardbacks usually at less than half price, as well as comic books and collectibles.

Farrar said he and Randy Reid, both with Reid Peevey Company, had been “tag-teaming” the courting of Half Price books for almost 12 years.

“It’s been a long process, but it’s good to have them back,” Farrar said.

He continues to pursue tenants for 16,000 square feet between Half Price Books and Mardel and 23,500 square feet that became vacant in the retail center, Brazos Place, when Office Max shuttered its store there.

“We have people wanting to get in there, but the owners of the center are very conscientious and want the right tenant mix,” Farrar said.

Brazos Place is owned and operated by an entity controlled by brothers Chris and Kenneth Young, who also own TYMCO, a local company that makes street-sweeping equipment and enjoys international sales.

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