It’s a shame that so many independent book stores are closing. We are blessed to have a real special indie book store here in Coventry, let alone right next to us at Big Fun. I’ll argue ’til I’m blue in the face that it’s not just books that make a book store special. Case in point at Mac’s Backs—Suzanne DeGaetano. Suzanne not only is an incredibly knowledgeable literary individual, but equally as important, Suzanne is a community activist who supports local writers and poets. Suzanne and Mac’s nearly weekly book signings and readings give both first timers and experienced writers/poets a chance to read to the public. We all need more champions like Suzanne who never asks for anything in return.
Next time you are in the Coventry area, stop in to Mac’s Backs and tell Suzanne Thanks! If you can make a purchase, better yet! Mac’s Backs can get you anything that Amazon can. Support Your Local Independent Businesses!
Mac’s Backs originally opened in Kent, Ohio in 1978 while founder Jim McSherry was attending graduate school. He had bought a used bookstore in Chagrin Falls and moved it to Kent for a year. After grad school he returned to Chagrin and reopened the store there which has subsequently closed. Jim and business partner Suzanne DeGaetano opened the Coventry store in 1982.
The Coventry store opened in a second floor walk-up space in 1982, moved to a larger ground floor space on the north end of Coventry in 1984 and then moved to the current location in the middle of the business district in 1993. We share a doorway with Tommy’s Restaurant and customers can go back and forth between the bookstore and restaurant.
Mac’s has three floors of new and used books and magazines. We are a book exchange—people bring in books to trade for other used books. About 80 percent of our store is used books. We also stock new books which tend to be neighborhood favorites, classics, small press titles, local publications and new releases that would appeal to our customers.
We also have a diverse magazine selection of current event, cultural, music, art, philosophy and literary titles.
Mac’s hosts readings, book-signings, author events, book clubs and workshops and makes our basement space available for free for community members who need a meeting space. Our monthly poetry reading has been ongoing on the 2nd Wednesday each month for 27 years.
Our clientele represents a wide cross-section of the community. People who live or work in the neighborhood, visitors from nearby suburbs, regional shoppers from the outlying counties like Medina or Ashtabula and day trippers from places like Erie, PA. People come to the Coventry business district because it is their neighborhood place to shop or they come because they are attracted to the mix of small shops and restaurants that can’t be found anywhere else.
There is and always has been a lively street culture here. Cleveland Heights grew as a streetcar suburb and the business districts developed in an era when the automobile did not dictate design. Therefore, it is a very walkable street with a lot of shopping and restaurant variety in a few blocks. The streetscape is welcoming with trees, flowers and the 60 + public art decorative iron sculptures that surround attractive minigardens. Even the street signs reflect the heritage of the street—the non-profit group Heights Arts installed tie-dye colored street signs to reflect the counter-culture era of the late 1960’s into the 1970’s.
We wanted to open our store on Coventry because of it’s cultural diversity and because of the lively street scene. It is very important for communities to have a place where the public can gather, congregate, hang-out and socialize. Coventry has always been a crossroads and a natural gathering spot and Mac’s is glad to be part of this vibrant and historic neighborhood.