Hey Meridian, we are moving in! We are ecstatic about our new store in Meridian, Idaho. In this edition of Meet the Bibliomaniacs, we would like to introduce you to the HPB Meridian store manager, Justin Masi, who’s been hard at work leading our Meridian team (in masks and maintaining safe social distancing practices, of course) building out our newest store for you!
When did you join the Meridian team?
I have been fortunate enough to see this store grow from the cavernous, white empty shell that it was shortly after we signed the final paperwork and took possession of the building into the bustling, colorful store stuffed with great merchandise that it is today. It’s only been three months but it feels like a lifetime (in a good way).
As a store manager, what has it been like setting up a store in a new location?
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we were first laying the plans for opening our store in Meridian, considering the next closest HPB location is 500 miles away. But the warm reception we have gotten from our neighbors in Idaho –many of whom are already familiar with us! – has been so inspiring. I fully believe we will thrive in our new home.
What’s an average day like for you?
I am not avoiding the question by saying that there is no such thing as an “average day.” I approach each new day with the understanding that no plan I had is set in stone. The process of opening a new store has taught me that the greatest skill a manager can bring to the task is a willingness to let circumstance dictate action.
What is your favorite part of working at Half Price Books?
Half Price Books has always been a place where the weird and the wild could come to find a home, both as customers and as employees. My time with Half Price Books has only served to strengthen my appreciation for those of us on the fringes of society, crouched among a dusty stack of books, pouring over a long forgotten volume. The fact that I get to experience this every day I come into work is endlessly pleasing.
What is your favorite part/feature of the Meridian location?
Often on clear mornings, the sun makes its first appearance of the day over the foothills that can be glimpsed from our parking lot, painting the land with hope and promise. At times like these, as I walk from my car to the front door of our building, traffic still silent, the birds rustling in the treetops as they shake the sleep from their stiff wings, I take a moment to be grateful for the day that is about to begin and for the fact that this neighborhood is quiet.
Tell us about trying to open a store during these trying times.
I cannot say that it’s been easy the whole way, but so far we have been very lucky. We’ve been heartily received by our neighbors and have even been thanked for sticking to our strict posted COVID mask guidelines.
Tell us about how you get your used products.
The Half Price Books model for collecting material is perfect in its simplicity: people empty their shelves, they bring the merchandise into us, we pay them cash and then we put them on our shelves. The book cycle of life! When we were opening our store in Meridian we had to come at things a little differently. Since we weren’t open for locals to bring their merchandise into us, we relied on other Half Price Books throughout the country to pull items from their shelves to send to us, cobbling together a store from little pieces of all of our other stores. We were helped immensely by our friends down in Waco, Texas and Nashville, but many hands went into forming a supply chain that reached from all corners of this country to bring books to Boise.
What is your all-time favorite book, movie or album?
I have to admit that I am terrible at this question. If it didn’t sound like such a cop out here I would give my standard answer whenever I am asked this question: whatever I’m reading right now is my favorite thing. Since I want to dig a little deeper for the purposes of this blog post I will give as an example an album that, though it may not be my favorite, still rings brightly with emotional importance whenever I hear it played.
Seven years ago I drove from Houston, Texas to Berkeley, California. On the drive I stopped through Joshua Tree, landing at the entrance to the park just as the sun rose. It was the peak of summer, which meant I had a day of extreme heat and sun ahead of me, but at that time of the morning things were still cool and peaceful. On my car stereo, I had Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs playing at top volume. To this day, I can never hear any song from that album without being transferred immediately back to the desert all those years ago.
What are you reading right now?
At the moment I am reading a book called Bright And Distant Shores by Dominic Smith. It’s a story that takes place at the very end of the 19th Century about a sea-going voyage undertaken by a hired hand on the hunt for artifacts from tribes in the South Pacific. An engrossing blend of history and fiction, this book takes turns that were far more bizarre than I saw coming. And that’s what I like!
What TV show or movie are you embarrassed to admit you love?
I am currently about 75 hours into the OJ Simpson trial, which can be found in its entirety on YouTube. That’s right, THE OJ Simpson trial, with all of its stunning turns, its star witnesses, and, yes, its brain-numbingly dull expert testimony. I have taken a little break from this for a while, but I can’t wait to get back to it soon. I gotta see if he did it or not!
What do you do in your free time?
Anything, as long as it’s outside!
If you could write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
But Enough About Me: A Memoir. Oh wait, that’s the name of Burt Reynolds’ autobiography. How about, Things I Only Tell My Friends? Dang it, that’s Rob Lowe’s autobiography! Ah well, he probably won’t even notice.
You’re happiest when?
Here’s an image of me at my happiest: porch swing, summer at dusk, fireflies, feet propped up on the porch railing, mug of coffee, my wife and me reading, our dog at our feet.
Stop by our new Meridian Crossroads location and meet Justin and the rest of the team in person!