The question caught Chelsea Johnson off guard, and a pregnant pause ensued. It became clear that she was opening and closing drawers in the card catalog of her mind.
"My favorite book?" repeated the owner of historic Roseville's Beatnik Books. "That's a tough one. Right now, at this moment, I would go with 'Vanity Fair' It was written over 200 years ago, and I can still see people that I know in the stories and I can see patterns of society that still exist today. Also I love his (author William Thackeray's) sense of humor."
A voracious reader, Johnson used her own home collection of roughly 3,000 books as inventory when she opened her store more than two years ago. Slowly, her library at home slimmed down to 150 volumes.
However, her store at 309 Lincoln St. is in the process of expanding.
"We took over the space that's next door to ours," she told me. "We took down a wall between to make it a little over twice its size. That's really so we can have more books. We're really looking forward to adding a kids' room. It's under construction right now."
After paying the bills, Beatnik breaks even, Johnson said, noting that she didn't open the store to get rich. Johnson still has a job as a social worker, and she's hired store manager Laura Hillen to look over her books, 95 percent of which sell for $1-$4.
Contractors embrace antiques
When Cole and Terry Dennis downsized their home last year, they suddenly had shelves upon shelves of collectibles and no place to put them.
Meanwhile, they had seen a big decline in business for Century Homestead, their home contracting business located at 4580 Power Inn Road.
"I woke up one day and I told my husband, 'we have all this space over here and I have all these antiques,' " Terry Dennis said. "We took this whole place, and we transformed it. If you can imagine, in October of last year, this was all 100 percent contractor."
Today the building is mostly an antiques store, though the Dennises continue to sell whole-house fans manufactured by Triangle Engineering.
The two businesses are proving to be complementary, Terry Dennis said. As customers come looking for a more economical way to cool their homes, they pick up a piece of Fenton glass or a slot machine or a Federal Coral Pink set of American Limoges china.
Greg Campbell of Mike & Greg's Antiques at Sacramento's 57th Street Antique Row said baby boomers increasingly are moving into the business as an older generation retires.
He and his partner Michael Allgood did so four years ago, and Will Green opened his Empty Attic store about 10 months ago at 702 57th St.
Tie ribbon on your finger
Most Americans buy their food from grocers or wholesalers, so they rarely see where it originates. At 9 a.m. May 18, I'll quiz Placer County rancher Karin Sinclair of Sinclair Family Farms about how this distance from the food supply affects regulation, animal welfare, marketing and more.
At 11 a.m. the same day, the Sinclairs are welcoming visitors to their farm for wool spinning, sheep shearing and sheep dog demonstrations. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for either event.
Consumers can safely dispose of their prescription drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's sixth annual National Take-Back Day. To find a collection site near you, go to www.dea.gov and click on the "Got Drugs?" icon, or call (800) 882-9539.
Call The Bee's Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow him on Twitter @cathiea_sacbee.