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Townsend bookstore survives despite the pandemic

Posted at 8:49 AM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 20:45:56-04

In rural parts of Montana on their Main Streets, you might find a nostalgic atmosphere of 19th century buildings, each telling their own stories.

In Townsend on any given day, a passerby will see William Garwood, who owns the Common Sense bookstore, sitting on a bench and waving.

If the name Common Sense rings a bell, it should; if you used to pick up the Townsend Star newspaper.

"I was writing an article, for years in the newspaper in town, just called, "Common Sense," just kind of pointing out things around the town. Saying, this is kind of silly, or this we like," said Garwood.

When the local newspaper went in a different direction, Garwood opened a bookstore under the same name, in hopes of sharing his love of reading with fellow Montanans.

On July 16, Garwood will be celebrating one year in business.

Like many small businesses, he closed his doors during the peak of the COVID-19 restrictions.

Garwood tells MTN that he used the time to make sure the store was clean and safe when it reopened, as well as providing extra safety precautions for customers.

"My wife made masks that I kept out here in the foyer, so people could have one to put on. I've got the hand sanitizer on the desk. It hasn't hit here as hard as other places, but we were prepared."

The bookstore owner is focused on putting feel-good books in the hands of readers. "I love stocking the bookstore, because I think to myself, ‘what's something I would like to find?’"

He also adds that it’s that personal connection, of walking into a brick and mortar store that shopping online cannot offer.

Garwood is also proud of the humor on his bookshelves. For example, in the language section, customers can find the Klingon dictionary, a language from the Star Trek television series.

At the bookstore, there are no cents in the price tag. All books are rounded to a dollar amount, which he says is just common sense.

Garwood has also made sure to include a Montana touch to the bookshelves, "The things people want to see are on Montana history, and we have a lot of local authors, which surprise me, but there are."

However, of all the additions, there is one thing you will not find. "Kindles and anything electronic, it’s all just feels good in your hands, books," Garwood said.

Common Sense is located on 217 Broadway, in front of the Betsy, in Townsend. The store is open from Tuesday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

You can also find Common Sense on Facebook.