Sincere com­munity has a home in the heart of downtown Quincy, Michigan, among the over­flowing shelves of Book Haven, a resale bookstore.

Jay and Samantha LaFountain pur­chased the book­store three years ago and changed the name from The Swallows Nest, named after the pre­vious owners, to Book Haven. 

“I saw a Facebook post that the original owners were looking for a buyer, and I would have hated to see it close,” Samantha said. “Jay sug­gested we buy it, and I didn’t think he was serious at first. But we were at this weird cross­roads where we were not really sure what our next move was.”

According to the LaFoun­tains, the pre­vious owners were very serious about keeping the integrity of the store they had built up over the years. The pre­vious owners were also deter­mined to ensure the store remained a haven for the com­munity in town. Not long after the interview, Jay and Samantha were the owners of the store.

“We saw the ad on Memorial Day weekend and we owned the store by the end of June,” Samantha said.

Book Haven carries every­thing from classics to westerns and Christian history to children’s fiction. They carry a wide variety of puzzles, games, and sta­tionery as well. The store offers a student dis­count to high school and college stu­dents alike. Addi­tionally, they buy used books from stu­dents and from Mossey Library.

Prior to their pur­chase of Book Haven, Samantha was a stay-at-home mom who home­schooled their six children. Jay worked full time as an accountant, but said he had been inter­ested in running his own business.

“I have always been fas­ci­nated with business,” Jay said. “I was all in for any kind of retail estab­lishment, or any kind of business really. The fact that it’s books just makes it better.”

The book­store also gave Jay the oppor­tunity to grow closer to his family.

“I used to have an hour and a half commute, eight hours of work, and an hour and a half drive back home. Now I get so much more family time,” Jay said. “Some days Samantha works and I get to stay home and hang out with the kids. That has been a huge blessing for me.”

Jay has also found the time to pursue interests such as weekend pick­leball tour­na­ments and vol­unteer work at Cross­roads Farm youth ministry.

All eight members of the LaFountain family were avid readers even before owning the bookstore.

“I grew up reading Nancy Drew under my bed covers with a flash­light when I was young,” Samantha said.

Becoming the owners of Book Haven has been a won­derful oppor­tunity for the LaFountain family, Samantha said.

“I love that our kids get to be involved. They get to learn all sorts of valuable things and it really fits well into our home­schooling lifestyle,” Samantha said. “Espe­cially for my older kids, they’re learning business skills here. My second oldest can lit­erally run the whole store. They get to nat­u­rally be a part of the com­munity just by coming to work with us and when they do, they get to meet all sorts of dif­ferent people from all dif­ferent age groups and walks of life and I think that’s really good for them.”

In the early days of own­ership, Jay and Samantha worked long hours at the store, which required them to turn it into some­thing of a second home for their children. One can find com­fortable seating and pots of fresh coffee scat­tered throughout the store.

“The journey is ever evolving,” Samantha said. “I remember the first year or so feeling surreal everytime I came to work.”

Ini­tially, Samantha mainly ran the store while Jay stayed home with the LaFountain children.

“That’s one of the won­derful things about owning and running a business together,” Samantha said. “I know a lot of people and fam­ilies where a spouse has a business but it’s not a family business they run together. One of the biggest blessings for us is the ability and flex­i­bility to take a break in one realm or another and kind of pick up the slack for each other. We just go with where we’re at in our season of life.”

This flex­i­bility has helped Samantha as a mother, she said.

“I got a break from my children for the first time in many years,” Samantha said with a laugh. “I was really at a breaking point with my mental health and I needed some rein­forcement. Getting more time to be me and not just mom all the time has really helped a lot. It has made it so this year I have been able to be home with the kids more and it’s not so taxing because it’s a choice I get to make.”

Like the rest of the world, Book Haven was impacted by the COVID-19 pan­demic in 2020. They were forced to shut down for about two months, when they lost a sig­nif­icant amount of business.

“We stayed open as best we could with delivery ser­vices and curbside pickup,” Jay said. “It wasn’t paying the bills, but it wasn’t about money at that point. It was about a bunch of cus­tomers stuck at home who needed books. When we opened back up, there was a huge out­pouring of people coming in.”

After Book Haven’s reopening, the store saw better sales than it had before the pandemic.

“It really reminded people how important it is to support their small local busi­nesses which was really needed I think,” Samantha said. “We were doing fine before COVID, but it actually increased business for us.”

Roxanne Kaufman, an art pro­fessor at Hillsdale, is a longtime friend of the LaFountain family and a regular at Book Haven.

Kaufman shares the LaFountain’s passion for books, and she has even done events at Book Haven fol­lowing the release of her two children’s books, entitled “Hooves” and “Nell the Nest Cow.”

“It’s not just a book­store, it really is a unique place,” Kaufman said. “They encourage com­munity there.”

Kaufman’s friendship with the LaFountain family began with shared tes­ti­monies of faith, she said.

“We started talking about church and the dif­ferent ways God has touched our lives and a friendship grew.”