Within six weeks of the establishment of Riverton on August 25, 1906, the first store began to rise from the surrounding sagebrush.
The Hays Mercantile built by David Hays and his son Roy was a landmark for generations in Fremont County, it lasted as a family business for 62 years before it was sold in 1968. There were two additions made to the original 1906 building, one in 1910 and fan one 38 years later.
On the east side of the original Hays Store was the final addition built in 1948. It’s inside this addition that Meadowlark Books began operation early in the 21st century.
“Meadowlark has been at 406 East Main for at least 20 years now,” Sabrina Shelton bookstore attendant said. “We estimate around 150,000 books upstairs and downstairs.”
Meadowlark Book is the only bookstore in Riverton and one of only four in Fremont County. the others being Main Street Books in Lander, Mad Dog, and the Pilgrim Booksellers at Sweetwater Station behind the “Eggs and Old Books” sign on the north side of the highway and Waterwheel Gifts and Books in Dubois.
“We sell used books, some new books, book-themed jewelry, stickers, and bookmarks and we order books for those of our patrons that don’t know how to or would rather someone else do it for them,” Shelton said. “We offer shipping to those who can’t make it to our store from neighboring towns and even states.”
Meadowlark Books opens Monday through Saturday at 9 am, closing at 5:30 pm on weekdays, and 4 pm on Saturday.
If you have a stockpile of books at home that you’ve already read, you can trade those in for credit on book purchases at the store.
“We have a trade/credit program offered to all patrons of the store. For all books brought in, no matter the originating point, they are used to save up to half off on all the used books in the store,” Shelton said.
Modern bookstores face challenges that didn’t exist just a generation ago, as Internet marketing has come to dominate the sale of books, both used and new.
“We sell used books online through Amazon. Hopefully, we will have a website soon that will let us sell without a third party,” Shelton said. “We are slowly trying to get with the times while trying to preserve the past.”
The store is easy to find at 406 East Main Street in Riverton. They can be reached at 307-856-7323.
Meadowlark Books and the Studio 402 Day Spa occupy the building once owned by the Hays family. The building’s history is the history of Riverton in microcosm.