Shakespeare Books owner buys recycled furniture store

Judi Honore, owner of Shakespeare Books & Antiques, has bought Ashland Recycled Furniture on A Street and says her first love is books and she plans to reopen her bookstore in town at some point in the future.

Honore says she closed the deal on ARF Aug. 30, paid cash for the business and did it mainly so her long-time manager Donna Jean Morris would continue to have a place to work. Morris is now in charge of and operating that store.

Public records, however, indicate she filed with the state as owner of the store on Aug. 19, taking over from Kathleen Buffington. Honore gave notice to the landlord of the Shakespeare Books space on Aug. 22. At that time, she attributed the pending bookstore closure to declining sales and stress stemming from her ongoing dispute with Oregon Shakespeare Festival over the display of racially offensive books in her display of banned books in the the front window. She did not mention at the time her purchase of the ARF store.

OSF on July 26 directed staff to not patronize the bookstore for any festival-related business, following complaints by actors in the all-black “The Wiz” that her display of banned books in the window were racially offensive. The festival has since said it has only made one purchase from the bookstore in recent years, so any decline in business is not attributable to OSF's own boycott, which it has not asked anyone else to join in.

Honore disputes suggestions she was looking to move or close her business prior to the dispute with OSF, saying her bookstore was doing well and she was only looking for a new spot because her inventory is three times what the store would hold.

ARF is selling only used furniture, no books, she said, adding she will put all her books in storage till she finds space for a bigger store. 

“Once I found out the boycott was happening and there was a good chance this store was going south,” says Honore, that’s when she decided that “when I get the emotional energy, I will reopen a book store in Ashland somewhere. But this (dispute) wore me down so much, there’s no joy in it ... I don’t want to sell furniture ... I had no intent to move until this happened.”

Calls by the Tidings to the bookstore's landlord in an attempt to verify when Honore gave notice were not returned in time to be included in this story.

Monday, Sept. 12: This story has been updated to correct a headline that said Honore purchased an antique store (it's a used furniture store); Morris' title (manager, not assistant); and the date Honore gave notice (Aug. 22, not Aug. 23).

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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