Don’t forget small business Saturday: Fleur Fine Books to offer discounts to shoppers

Published 1:35 pm Thursday, November 23, 2017

After Black Friday comes another informal shopping holiday, Small Business Saturday.

There are plenty of reasons to shop local, most of them economic. Bill McCoy, the president of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, likes to point out that money spent locally tends to stay local, as store owners pay taxes and rents and employees, but, as local residents, those owners also buy other goods and services in the community.

However, there are other, perhaps less tangible reasons for getting it in town rather than online.

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One of those reasons is customer service. Dale La Fleur, owner of Fleur Fine Books in Port Neches offers one of the most robust collections of books in the area but, as La Fleur is happy to point out, if someone can’t find it in his store, he can get it.

“Rick and I have found some really odd things for people,” he said, speaking of his store manager, Rick Beaulieu. “We’re good at finding the unusual and the hard to find. We can wade through the mish mash to get you what you want to find.”

Meaning, getting specialized, one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts is a whole lot easier for customers because this bookstore sells more than books.

One recent acquisition is a signed, first-edition copy of Ayn Rand’s influential novel “Atlas Shrugged.” That book La Fleur sold online within a day. A first-edition copy of Stephen King’s “It” is still available.

“This is my labor of love this is my therapy,” La Fleur said. “Some guys fish some guys hunt, I buy and sell books. It’s my therapy.”

Of course, most of the books in the store aren’t as rare (or as pricey) as signed first editions.

“We have a little something for everyone from everything like biographies to cookbooks to pulp fiction, we have signed books and we have books from a dollar and a quarter on up,” La Fleur explained.

And, like many small businesses on Saturday, La Fleur’s store is offering discounts.

“Twenty percent off all books in the store on Saturday and we have 10 percent off of all of our books online for people who can’t make it in,” Beaulieu said.

The store offers some 6,000 titles online and 35,000 in the store, but the store offers other things it’s best to see in person. Among those things are the Lovepop cards—pop-up greeting cards designed by navel architects and each meticulously crafted to offer an ambitious and intricate design when opened.

As it happens, La Fleur’s store is the only store between Houston and New Orleans offering the cards.

For greeting cards, they’re pricey but La Fleur believes it’s worth it.

“I think each one of them is a little work of art myself,” he said.

Speaking of art, throughout the store customers might notice little knickknacks. On one wall is mounted a wooden mask from Cameroon and on one shelf rests a sculptor’s mallet and on another shelf, a toy cannon that really fires.

The curios don’t have any price tags, but they’re not mere decoration and La Fleur said, if customers see something interesting, they can usually buy it.

“I see things that are neat and I start picking them up for the store and we started selling them,” he said. In particular La Fleur collects bookends.

“We’re always looking for unique bookends,” he said. “We sell odd stuff. I look for cast iron or marble, durable type of items for bookends.”

La Fleur finds the curios at estate sales, which is where he said he spends a lot of his free time. Quite often the item came from some far off corner of the world, and La Fleur said he’s happy to pass it along to someone else.

“I don’t like modern things you can find in box stores. I like things that caught someone’s eye when they were travelling the world,” he said.

But of course the store is a bookstore, so readers will want to come for those. As it is a local bookstore, La Fleur has a deep reservoir of local and regional authors and titles, including “The Devil had a Wife,” by Frank Mills, the pen name of Rebecca Stark Nugent. The book is a nonfiction account of the life of Nelda Stark.

And, for fans of local history, La Fleur will be re-issuing W.T. Block’s out-of-print histories of the area.

“We’re going to try and have out our first hardback next month,” La Fleur said.

Also in that month, the store will host local writer Kristi Burden. That will happen Dec. 2.

But on Sunday, there will just be books. And art. And discounts.

The store is located at 1720 Magnolia Ave. #104.