Travis Brown had been working as a second hand book buyer (or a 'runner') since he was 19. His partner, Benita Bunting had worked managing her share of new bookstores. Opening their own second-hand store in 2009 was a natural step. "It was always the plan," say Brown. "We just weren't sure exactly when." The couple had been stockpiling for some time, with a whole room in their North Melbourne terrace taken up with boxes and boxes of books. "We knew that to open a store we'd need a lot of stock, and good stock." And most importantly, they understood what the market was missing: a second-hand bookstore with a first-hand feel.
Although the store is lined with shelves packed to the brim with books, Brown & Bunting is nothing like the dusty old second-hand bookstores you’re used to. Instead, the sections are meticulously organised, the books are cleaned with eucalyptus oil (making the whole store smell delicious) and there’s not a spot of dust to be found anywhere.
The couple is well aware of their online competition, but don't seem to let it bother them. A quick glance around the shelves reveals that Brown & Bunting's stock is priced as cheaply, if not better than their online competitors. It certainly makes it difficult to leave empty-handed. The nature of the business means that the stock is always changing based around what Brown comes across and the aim is to make sure that there's always something new on the shelves, even if a customer comes in twice a week.
What's their secret? "Without wanting to sound cheesy, we just love what we do. We love selling books, we love buying books, we love talking about books. I don't know how you could do it if you didn't. And I think there's a lot of people like us who just aren't going to get it from e-readers and staring at a computer screen.”