A couple of weeks ago, if you walked down Sunnyvale’s Murphy Avenue around noon, you would have heard peals of laughter as ventriloquist Steve Chaney (www.cornycrow.com) and his dummy Corny Crow’s goofy antics entertained the young audience gathered at Bookasaurus. Right next door to Bookasaurus is Leigh’s Favorite Books (www.leighsbooks.com), where Leigh Odum, co-owner of both bookstores, was busy helping customers.
Serving adults and teens, Leigh’s Favorite Books opened in 2004. Bookasaurus, which opened in 2012, carries items for children up to the junior high level. Odum handpicks all the merchandise for her stores. While Odum is known as the face behind the bookstores, she affectionately referred to Khader Abdel-Hafez, her husband and co-owner of the bookstores, as the “unsung hero of the stores.”
“When my husband and I opened the bookstore, I thought I could still do my day job,” said Odum, who has a background in urban planning. “But once I opened the store, I never went back to work again. My husband and I thought Sunnyvale would be a great place to open a store. We thought Sunnyvale would support an independent bookstore and we were right.”
Bookworms on a budget wanting to purchase the latest bestseller at Odum’s bookstores can pick up a used book, which is part of a trade in program.
“We sell mostly new books but we do have a selection of used books,” Odum said. “Our selection of used books now is focused on current books.”
The recipient of a Sunnyvale Community Award for being the 2015 Business Person, Odum is known for her generosity in the community. Whether it’s overseeing a book collection drive with RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching), coordinating with Sunnyvale Community Services for a toy drive, letting an independent filmmaker film scenes at her store or organizing sales weeks and special events for school fundraisers, Odum knows how to extend a helping hand to others.
“We’ve done our best to give back to our local schools, particularly schools in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara,” Odum said. “One program we did this year was with Ellis Elementary School. The school needed 90 gift cards for their students. I think they were $10 gift cards. We donated half of them. Generally, if a school asks for gift cards, I’ll think of a way to offer something they can use for an auction or as a prize for a child. Santa Clara schools and Sunnyvale schools get top priority for my donation budget.”
Another way Odum gives back is to host free events, such as the Aug. 5 ventriloquist show.
“We offer a lot of free events at Bookasaurus,” Odum said. “Sometimes on Sunday at noon, at least once or twice a month, we’ll have a free event at Booksausaurus. Sometimes it’s a story time with a book reading or a story time with a craft. When you have kids, you’re always looking for things to do with your kids. Free things are always better. It always brings people to the store.”
Leigh’s Favorite Books and Bookasaurus are located in Downtown Sunnyvale at 121 & 125 S. Murphy Ave., respectively. Visit www.facebook.com/Bookasaurus and www.facebook.com/leighsfavoritebooks for information about future events.