In a town where local is important, Brad Mitchell, owner of Rockwood Books and Collectibles, has begun to leave a mark on Manhattan with his bookstore.
Tucked away in the Town Pavilion just a few blocks from historic Poyntz Avenue, Mitchell started out with a simple goal: to connect people and share his love of collecting with everyone around him.
“It has a way better local feel because he is such a personable person,” Tana Akers, Kansas State alum, said. “He really wants his customers to keep coming back and he tries to establish a connection with as many of them as possible and because of that, I do go back.”
Mitchell said he doesn’t actually know at what point he wanted to open a used bookstore; it was something he just fell into.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Mitchell said he and his wife traveled the United States throughout the duration of his military career. It was during that time that he began to find excitement in the collection of art.
“In Augusta, Georgia, I first began collecting artisan bowls and woodwork,” Mitchell said. “They were just so interesting, and I knew that I needed more.”
Mitchell said several years later, he retired from the military and settled down with his wife and oldest daughter. Instead of returning to Wichita, they decided to come to Manhattan.
“After leaving the military I couldn’t wait to establish roots again,” Mitchell said. “We own a house here, a business and our two daughters love their daycare here.”
Once settled into town, Mitchell said his book collection began to grow faster than it ever had before and in time, he bought his first used books lot.
“I fell in love with the collection,” Mitchell said. “It was enormous but I didn’t have a store. I bounced from storage unit to small office spaces until I eventually settled here.”
From the first day he received the keys to what is now the bookstore, Mitchell said he had a bigger vision for his store.
“I don’t know what point I would even start considering us a store,” Mitchell said. “There was no carpet, new windows were needed and there were no shelves.”
Nonetheless, Mitchell said he was just excited to own his own business, a business that has gone from antique books to newer literature, comic books and graphic novels.
Mitchell said growing up he didn’t read comics, but loves the new faces that he has been able to meet since he began expanding Rockwood’s products.
With the new branching of products and events, groups have also started to regularly visit the store such as K-State’s Little Apple Geek Society.
“We used to meet at Boom Comics, but after it closed and with Hastings closing we were left looking for a place to go,” Eric Schlueter, graduate student in architecture and Little Apple Geek Society member, said.
Schlueter said he heard about Rockwood Books and became Mitchell’s gateway into the comic book world by approaching him about ordering comic books.
“It’s cool to have a place to meet up and just geek out,” Schlueter said. “(Mitchell) already had an interest in comic books as well, so I’m just glad I’ve been able to guide him through the comic world.”
Mitchell said he loves where the store is going and his goal is to provide a place that Manhattan locals can count on and meet more of the people that make the city what it is.