Lee and Ivye Johnson are long-time Reno residents. We started buying books for a bookstore in 1993 when we bought a storage unit full of books. We also decided to put every book in the computer so we pressed our kids into service and kept the computer working 24/7 until we had over 9,000 books in our database. By then we had signed the lease at our first location at the corner of Vassar and Wells in Reno and called it Black and White Books. We commissioned Custom Cabinets to build us bookshelves and as we were stocking the shelves people kept poking their heads in the store and asking “Are you open yet?” On April 16th 1994 Lee stopped shelving and ran to Office Depot and bought a cash register and we opened! We had a full basement with signs of mice, so I went to the animal shelter and found a black and white kitten. We named him Jacob and he became the store cat.
We quickly outgrew that location where we had painted the awnings black and white stripes and went looking for a larger location that we could afford. We ended up on Lakeside Ct across from Scolari’s Supermarket. It was off the beaten track and buried in a corner but we soon had a new following and quickly filled that store with books. There was a fountain in front of the store and benches for people to sit on, making it an awesome location that was very calming.
At that time our 11 year old grandson had finished 8th grade and we had him tested. He was in the top 2% in the nation for college bound seniors and was accepted at the University here in town. We decided to sell the store to a former employee to allow Ivye to homeschool him. Ivye pursued her teaching certificate and taught our grandson for for several years, before we ended up buying the store back. We put everything in storage while Ivye finished out the school year as she was teaching and Lee went on a quest for a new location.
We had, in the meantime, established our web presence as Zephyr Books, so Black & White Books ended and Zephyr Books, which began as a web store, now morphed into a retail store. Our new location on South Virginia St had over 5,000 square ft including an espresso bar, table and chairs for meetings or sitting and reading and well lit. It didn’t take long to overfill that store with books! Now it is time to retire, but we love the book business, so we have decided to continue selling our highest quality finds online, bringing us back to where we began with Zephyr Books, online only.
Our last day in a retail location was May 31st 2013. At that time, we began selling collector quality books exclusively through our online storefront.