Marissa’s Books: A Treasure Trove for Bookworms of All Ages

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If you can name the genre, Marissa’s Books probably has it on the shelves—photography, architecture, mysticism, true crime, sci-fi, poetry anthologies and even a collection of books written by local authors—all surrounded by original art, sculptures and gifts. Rather unassuming from the outside, stepping into Marissa’s Books feels exactly how the discovery of an independent bookstore should: a bit magical.

“This is an accidental but wonderful business,” says Cindy Dumas, owner of Marissa’s Books. After acquiring a large collection of books at an estate auction, Dumas opened a temporary warehouse from which to sell them during the holidays in 2012. She found that local interest for physical books was still strong despite any electronic-bound ideas to the contrary, and she went on to open the first Marissa’s Books storefront in Murray in 2013. “My granddaughter Marissa was only seven at the time, but she and I enjoyed going to bookstores and spending mornings browsing the books and drinking hot chocolate,” Dumas says of the bookstore’s namesake.

“I knew we could make [the old Firestone building] into an interesting and fun bookstore by keeping some of its own special charm.”

In 2019, Dumas and her team made the old Firestone Tires building in Millcreek an unlikely—but quirkily aesthetic—new home for Marissa’s Books. “Initially, I thought [having to move] was the worst thing … But I soon found that it was the most amazing thing to happen for the store,” Dumas says. “I knew we could make [the old Firestone building] into an interesting and fun bookstore by keeping some of its own special charm.”

Special charm, indeed. The space is full of windows and seems to go on forever as each room opens into the next. Each room feels full of hidden treasures—most of which are for sale. “During this past year and due to many requests, we have started to sell select items like some of the decor, original artwork, paintings, etc. that are arranged around the store,” Dumas says. “Not everything is for sale, but at least 50% of what you see is.”

With the delightful array of offerings that Marissa’s Books has, I’d be surprised at anyone who walks in and leaves empty-handed.
Photo: John Barkiple

Shopping at Marissa’s Books is a way to support local authors, too. In addition to browsing the shelves of books written by Utahns, patrons of the bookstore can get their copies signed by the authors themselves at special events. “Prior to COVID, we had a number of local author book signings [in-store] and would like to get back to having them again on a regular basis,” Dumas says. The first post-COVID book signing event was held just last month, and information about future book signings can be found via the bookstore’s social media feeds.

Though Marissa’s now has a website (marissasbooks.com) and recently started selling wholesale to local stores like Smith & Edwards and Soelberg’s Market, nothing quite compares to walking among the shelves of possibilities at the flagship store. “It is more important than ever to support local, brick-and-mortar commerce,” Dumas says. “Word-of-mouth and social media [are the best ways to support us]. Please post pictures of our unique store, both inside and out, and talk about the one-of-a-kind books that you find.”

“It is more important than ever to support local, brick-and-mortar commerce.”

When I stopped by Marissa’s Books for the first time on a Friday afternoon, I made the mistake of assuming I was simply going to wander for research purposes. Of course, I didn’t stand a chance. I ended up with a copy of The Moosewood Cookbook (inside which I found a bonus recipe clipping from a 1995 newspaper for Greek potato salad) and a well-loved copy of Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities. And with the delightful array of offerings that Marissa’s Books has, I’d be surprised at anyone who walks in and leaves empty-handed.