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Just off the beaten path, A Page Turner strives for a foothold

By Rod Lee

Stan Sumrall can be found, when he is able to be there, nestled among the books and a few musical instruments at The Page Turner in Webster.

Mr. Sumrall smiles in readily acknowledging that he and his wife Donna’s relatively small store must be “the other bookstore” in town, noting as he does so that he and Deb Horan of the heavily trafficked Booklovers’ Gourmet at 55 East Main St. are “buddies.” Because Ms. Horan deals in mostly-new books, food, coffee and gifts (with regular promotional events thrown in), she is not averse to sending prospective customers’ A Page Turner’s way—if they are shopping for books that have been previously read.

A walkup venture situated next to the sidewalk in an old building on School St., which is on the far side of Webster almost to the Dudley town line, A Page Turner’s listed times of operation are noon to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Mr. Sumrall does the best he can to adhere to that schedule but admits that this is difficult because his wife has been battling illness.

A Page Turner (the address is 17 School St., across the street from Dunkin’ Donuts) opened in October of 2011.

Asked how the business came to be, Mr. Sumrall laughed and said “my daughter (Bekah Sumrall) fumbled-fingered the Internet and bought ten thousand books in Memphis. A friend of a friend brought them up on a flatbed truck and we started unloading books at four in the morning.”

Except for a sofa and a table located at the front of the premises, the store consists entirely of narrow aisles of shelved books covering a wide range of subject matter including drama, Shakespeare, poetry, schooling, children’s, cooking, sci-fi, mystery, fiction, art and animals.

“I buy books, and sometimes the library gives them away,” Mr. Sumrall said of his inventory.

He is also an accomplished musician.

“It’s a fun hobby and I have a good time with it,” he said. “I get twelve dollars for a forty five-minute lesson. I can teach students to ʽsing by sight.’” Saying that, he opened a music book and sang a scale for the benefit of a visitor. “I teach trumpet and the euphonium,” he said, pointing to two instruments standing on the floor. The euphonium, he explained, is a tuba-like instrument (it derives its name from the Greek for “well-sounding” or “sweet-voiced”). He added, “I have a background in music education, as a vocalist. I perform with my church’s worship team and with a rock band out of Holden called The Road Owls. I also perform at a local nursing home an hour a week, as part of a singalong—folk music.”

With a new Webster Public Library nearing completion downtown, the Booklovers’ Gourmet and A Page Turner, Webster-area residents have options in obtaining reading material.

Perhaps more options than they realize, as Mr. Sumrall’s family works to keep A Page Turner—tucked away as it is off the main drag and with limited hours—going.

The late E.B. White would certainly approve of the venture. A hardcover copy Mr. White’s Stuart Little occupied a conspicuous spot on the shelves.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.