Words by Alyssa Stevenson / Images by Wesley Kirk
The big purple building that many call the cornerstone of the Denton square has long been a local smorgasbord of books. Filled with stacks and stacks of books old and new, there is always something to flip through, to rummage for, to find. There is more to Recycled than meets the eye - beyond the sagging floors and shag carpet. Recycled is basically a treasure trove in the middle of town - a refuge for anyone wanting to dig deep and find something unique - and is oft overlooked by locals who get caught up in shiny new restaurants and businesses. However, Recycled has always been locally focused and here for us, so we’ve compiled 20 interesting facts that you should know about Denton’s most interesting book store.
Don Foster is the original owner, and can still be found behind the buying counter, even after owning the joint for 31 years.
Recycled has been on the corner of Oak and Locust on the Northeast side of the square since the 1990’s, but the store originally opened on the North side of town near TWU.
The building used to be an office supply store, and when Recycled moved in there was a room in the basement full of old typewriter parts.
There is indeed a shelf of books for really really tall people. This is probably the most photographed part of the entire store. No extra tall people have come in a perused it just yet. Maybe this year.
Spooky doesn’t even begin to describe it. Tales of noises (not just the old building kind), people feeling a ‘presence’ and unexplained voices have all been reported, making Recycled a normal haunt for paranormal hunters.
Before the basement was full of books, Don and his crew showed foreign films down there.
Platform 9 and ¾ can be found in the kids corner.
There is an actual room with completely mirrored surfaces, with a Shiny Around the Edges poster in it. However, it is completely covered by books, much like every other part of the store.
There is a hardcover copy of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow upstairs, which opens a secret door to a lounge with a bartender serving Denton’s best Old Fashioned when pulled on. Just kidding, but it is one of many rumors about the behemoth book store that are in circulation.
There is a room hidden away for employees called the “Hammock Lounge” - but the hammock was mysteriously stolen one day.
Down at the bottom of the basement, one sealed off door would open to what is often called the ‘dirt room’ - because it is literally a pile of dirt on a dirt floor. When it rains you can walk by and totally smell the damp earth.
Books come in from near and far to be sold. The store sees 500 books a day on average. The largest haul was 2 full moving truck loads of books and a collection of 20,000 CD’s. You thought your overstuffed bookshelf in the living room was a pain to sort through.
Recycled is often referred to as "The Opera House" for a reason. The building was once the Wright Opera House that opened in 1900 which was built with leftover bricks from a different Denton courthouse. The Wright Opera House closed in 1913.
Don Foster can be found reading British Police Procedurals and Neo Noir. Alyssa has no clue what either of those things actually are and will continue to read Jane Austen on the reg.
If you’re not sure where something is, or how to find something, or need a suggestion because you really liked the last book you read and don't want to be let down the next thing sitting on your nightstand, chances are one of the 14 employees can help you. They are all incredibly knowledgeable and someone will be able to recommend something spectacular to you. Bonus, they can also help you find it. It is an overall friendly intellectual bunch of folks.
Not gracing the shelves in the store is the Rare and Collectible collection of items for Recycled. Totally worth perusing online if you have a few minutes (which you do), it is a list of incredible finds. Recently spotted was a a signed first edition of A Room of One’s Own from Virginia Woolf.
There is a section for just about anything, including a Circus/Carnival section that was recently almost emptied by a group of clowns who came in and one about carrier pigeons - also known as really old text messaging. We aren't not making this up. Promise.
Don Foster founded the store after spending a large part of his young adult life buying books, then selling them for records. After awhile he would sell the records for more books. This cycle continues to this day, but now he has a store to show for it, and a whole bunch of people to commiserate with who are in the same position.
In the basement is a section called Pirates and Treasure and Disasters at Sea. I am waiting for the day that I spot a Captain Jack Sparrow type scanning the shelves on my way to the cookbooks next door.
There is also a Hot Ballooning section. In case your Christmas presents got really exciting, I figured someone would need to know.