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AAUW book fair attracts crowd to new North Augusta location

March 4, 2017 GMT

NORTH AUGUSTA — At 8:15 Friday morning, Skylar, Jimmy and Sara Wittenborn were standing on their driveway waiting for their mom, Colleen, to return home and drive them to the AAUW’s book fair at its new location in North Augusta.

For the Wittenborn family, the annual sale, featuring thousands of books of all genres, is a destination event.

“As soon as I pulled up they went, ‘Get in! Get in! Get in!’” Colleen Wittenborn said. “They want to be here when the doors open so they get first crack at the books.”

Skylar, 16, Jimmy, 14, and Sara, 11, plan for Books ’n’ Things, sponsored by the Aiken Chapter of the American Association of University Women, all year long, their mom said.

“We just love getting here,” Colleen Wittenborn said. “There is such a great collection of all different types of books. I home-school, so I can even get books for their education, from history to anything we’re interested in. It’s a great way to get books without spending a whole lot of money.”

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While her mom browsed the nonfiction books, Skylar looked for DVDs and CDs in one of the alcoves featuring specialty books, music and movies off the main floor.

“I was looking for Weird Al Yankovic albums,” she said. “Unfortunately, they didn’t have any, but I found the ‘Hunger Games’ movies and ‘Santa Clause 2.’ I love books, too, and you can usually find what you’re looking for here.”

Skylar said it’s “easier to take a chance on a book” at the book fair than at a bookstore.

“You can find good books for cheap prices. If you don’t like it, you didn’t spend a lot, and you can always donate it to the sale next year,” she said.

Jimmy said he was looking for classic music – The Beatles or The Bee Gees - from the 1960s and ’70s. He didn’t find any Friday, but he picked up “Wild Hogs,” like “Santa Clause 2,” another Tim Allen movie.

“I saw part of it last night,” he said. “It’s really good.”

Colleen Wittenborn said, “We love this place,” adding that the sale’s move to North Augusta didn’t affect their family’s plans to make the drive to North Augusta to shop.

“We just planned and left earlier,” she said. “I told the kids that I had heard some people were upset that it was farther, but they said it’s not that far. You just get in the car, and you go.”

Martha Ebel, AAUW president and co-chairman of the sale, said she hoped the move down U.S. 1 from Aiken would attract new book lovers from both sides of the Savannah River.

“We hope that we have gotten people from North Augusta and Augusta, as well as Aiken,” she said. “We hope, too, our friends from Aiken will make it down here for the sale, and I saw some of them this morning.”

Ebel added that she was “very pleased” with the initial response.

“First thing early on Friday morning, there is always a long line all the way out to the street,” she said. “It was no different this year.”

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AAUW treasurer and co-chairman Lee Dane said without the new space at the Riverfront Antique Mall the sale might have been canceled this year.

“There are a lot of big box stores in Aiken, and often, the local people are very enthusiastic; but those buildings are controlled in New York or Birmingham, Alabama, or wherever corporate is. They are not receptive to having six weeks of their buildings tied up for whatever reasons.”

“We go wherever we can find a place to set up because we love books,” Ebel said.

Proceeds from the sale benefit scholarships for students at USC Aiken and Aiken Technical College, programs sponsored by Public Education Partners, GED programs for adults who want to earn their high school diplomas and local service agencies, including the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, Nurture Home and the Freedman Parenting Center.

“We basically give away all of our money,” Dane said. “We give money to organizations that start as early as birth. Reach Out and Read is a program that takes books to pediatricians’ offices. Babies and mothers on their first Well Baby visit get a book, and children continue to get a book until they reach kindergarten.”

The sale will continue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The Riverfront Antique Mall is at 5749 Jefferson Davis Highway in North Augusta.