Entrepreneur growing book business in Grandville

    Amber Skiles created two companies inspired by her love of vintage books and her desire to keep them out of landfills.

    Skiles The House of Elements—a company that curates and sells decorative books and other home decor—started in 2016 in the basement of her home, then moved it to a 5,000-square-foot warehouse and studio at 3151 Broadway Ave. SW in Grandville in August 2019 to accommodate business growth.

    Also in 2019, she officially launched a companion business, A House of Books, which takes books from their warehouses that are either too private or too damaged to sell as home decor and sells them outside of the space they previously converted. From studio to storefront in January.

    Skiles hires Melissa Oppenhuizen to oversee operations and creative development and Jill Ashton to handle sales to industry partners, including interior designers and home décor retailers. She also has two contractors who work from home making canvas books for the store.

    Collectors seeking signed and/or primed issues often come to A House of Books in search of antique gems, while others may be paper craftsmen looking to use damaged books for “junk magazines,” card making. , collage and mixed media arts.

    “The Book House was set up to solve two inventory issues,” Skiles said. “We often found signed books and first edition books in the process of sorting, (and) we wanted a sister store that would sell these valuable books to collectors, as well as (to provide) education for those who might be interested in starting a book collection.

    We also received a number of books that were not in good enough condition to sell as home decor. It had torn pages, broken spines and other damage. Our mission is to make use of every book that enters our warehouse, which is consistent with our goal of reducing the number of books sent to landfill. We found that there was a large community of paper craftsmen who liked to use these books.”

    In addition to the aforementioned uses for books coming their way, Skiles recently launched a subscription to a “meridian” box filled with books and other vintage items for papermakers, with monthly or quarterly options. The first funds came out in March.

    Repurposed books from A House of Books with decor from The House of Elements. Courtesy Courtney Leclerc

    “(Subscriptions) keep doubling every month,” Skiles said. “It now takes the entire last week of the month to build them all.”

    Those interested in signing up can go online.

    Open to shoppers from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, A House of Books offers decorative books, antiques, and book-related gifts, as well as access to a warehouse containing “thousands and thousands” of Books, said Skiles.

    The shop also hosts a paper crafts open house from 10am to 8pm on the second Thursday of every month which offers free supplies and open stations for artisans to try new things without spending money on supplies.

    More information about both businesses is available by contacting [email protected] or calling (616) 534-3492.