Shady Character Books to open in former M and M Bookstore in Cedar Rapids

A sign is posted at Shady Characters bookstore in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, June 4, 2020. Darryl Schade took over owners
A sign is posted at Shady Characters bookstore in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, June 4, 2020. Darryl Schade took over ownership of M & M Books and plans to reopen with an expanded sci-fi section on Monday. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Darryl Schade walked into M and M bookstore curious about the sci-fi section, and nearly a year later, he is the owner of his own store in its place, Shady Character Books.

“I just came in here one day and told them their science fiction section was a mess, and one thing led to another,” Schade said.

Schade, a lover of reading and frequent volunteer at the shop on 212 Edgewood Road NW, said that when he heard the news that M and M was closing, he decided to step in.

M and M, like many businesses across Iowa, temporarily closed in March when the state forced non-essential businesses to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But when Gov. Kim Reynolds announced last month that businesses such as bookstores could reopen, M and M owners said it would remain closed.

According to a statement on the store’s website, owner Ursla Lanphear had been extremely ill throughout 2019 and experiencing symptoms with no diagnosis for months. Later that year, she found out she and her family had been exposed to a low-level carbon monoxide leak in their home, putting her at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.

“I just really did not expect this to happen,” Lanphear said.

Lanphear said she decided to sell the shop to Schade, considering that her employees and customers may fall into the high-risk population for contracting the coronavirus.

Lanphear and her husband, Bill, opened the store in October 2017, taking over for previous owners, Bobbie McLane and Diana Young, who operated the original store for 27 years.


As for the new store, Schade said he is excited to take on this new “expensive hobby” of his.

He said the new shop will focus on highlighting many different reading genres, including classics, vintage reads, and of course, science fiction.

The store’s hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday starting June 8. All patrons are asked to wear masks and respect other customers’ personal space, Schade said.

“There is a lot of uncertainty with COVID-19,” Schade said. “But other than that, we are hoping to make it a fun and interesting place.”

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