Brant's Books was opened in 1956 by Glen and Majorie Brant.
The original Army barracks were built in 1942 at the Venice airport to be used during the war. After the war all the barracks were sold off to the local community for $15 a section. Some were made into homes (I've heard there is one left on Siesta Key) but many were used for businesses.
The barracks that finally housed the bookstore was moved from the airport, after the war, to where the McDonalds is on the corner of US 41 and Bee Ridge Rd. It was originally used as a church (customers have showed me pictures of their parents being married there) until it was moved across the street to Brown Ave. Once there it became a sheet metal shop, ballet studio, facility to process school lunches for Sarasota County and finally a bookstore.
Mr. Brant started the store in 1956 and sold a mixture of antiques and books, but his love of books soon won more floor space in the large 4000 sq ft barracks. Rickety metal shelves, and with a filing system only he could understand, Mr. Brant would shuffle to the far corners of the store to find a certain book. No air conditioning, creaking ceiling fans, sagging shelves, old wooden floors and hundred's of thousands of eclectic books. Probably as close to book lovers paradise as humanly possible.
As a kid I would sweep the floors in the store for 25 cents an hour. (My dad had a lawnmower shop next door, and I was bored)
Over time the wood floors sagged even more, the shelves swayed and Mr Brant passed. My Mom, Mary bought the store. She tore out all the old metal shelving (using the family as cheap labor) built new shelves, cleaned, organized, priced and alphabetized all the inventory using the Dewey Decimial system.
She also had the forsight to realize the importance of the internet, and at one point had over 10,000 books listed online.
Mary passed in 2002, but not before passing on her love of books to her daughter, Barbara, who then took over the business. (That's me, the floor sweeper)
The store has since moved, gone are the "charms" of the old store, creaky metal shelves, unsteady floors and lack of air conditioning. Instead, with an inventory of over 150,000 books, that has probably grown since I last counted them 5 years ago, there are rows of books and treasures to explore. If you like books you might want to plan on spending the day.
The books in the store are not the only part of our stock, you might also want to explore our growing on line inventory on eBay. Or if you are out town, you can always email or call us to check our inventory for a certain title.
The original Brant's location, located by Bee Ridge Rd. and US 41 in Sarasota. That's Jake, the first bookstore dog on the porch.
This is Max, our bookstore dog, not quite as smart as Elvis, but we love him anyway. Elvis taught him to be sweet & kind. But he also picked up Elvis' lazy side and took it to the next level. Seriously. He is a part time Instagram star, so check him out!
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Jake, a rescue, was the very first bookstore dog. Doing what he did best, resting.
This is Elvis and his best friend Max.(look at that smile on Max's face!) Elvis passed in September 2018, after being the Best Boi and smartest dog ever. We miss him and his gentle, kind personality every single day. Best. Friends. Forever.
Interior shot of the original store, after the metal shelves were taken out and the wooden shelves were built. Notice the window on the left. They would swing up to provide the barracks with air flow and were original to the building.
OUR STORY: The History Of Brant's Books