Rose Maciuba has been crying a lot lately.
She lost her husband of 23 years in January.
Now she and the South Buffalo community are about to lose the bookstore the late Gerry Maciuba lived for – a special place to so many people.
Paperback Trading Post will close next weekend after nearly four decades in business.
By next Sunday evening, the store’s old, metal cash register will have rung up its final sale.
Gerry Maciuba ran the shop for 38 years, mostly in the first floor of his home, which he dubbed “the big yellow house on Seneca.”
He suffered from muscular dystrophy and died on Jan. 5 at age 66.
Rose Maciuba, 62, walked around the store Saturday morning, rattling off all the genres offered. Tens of thousands of used paperbacks fill wooden shelves stretching from floor to ceiling.
Romance, horror, religion. Health, western, science fiction. Sports, art, biography. History, mystery, adventure. You name it, Paperback Trading Post has it.
They aren’t just books. They are Gerry’s books.
“He had everything here,” his wife said.
The store is holding a sale on everything that’s left. Paperbacks are 50 cents each; hardcovers $2. The shop’s final days will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Regular customers have stopped by the past two weekends to make their final purchases. They love the books, but they loved Gerry Maciuba even more.
A visit to the store usually meant picking out a good read and having a nice conversation with the owner, too.
“He was always great to talk to,” said Mary Braun of Boston, a customer dating back to the shop’s early days. “He had a good variety, that’s for sure. He was a great guy. He was half of why I came here. It’s a shame.”
Carol Pepe of West Seneca has been shopping at the store for nearly 15 years.
“I love coming here,” she said. “I always donated books here. I think it’s a great way that people could save money and yet it gave [the Maciubas] an income. ... It is very special to people.”
Still grieving from her husband’s death, Rose Maciuba said it’s difficult to see the shop he loved close after all these years. But she can’t run it on her own. She recently had breast cancer and is limited from several back surgeries.
“It’s hard. It’s really hard,” she said. “All of the customers that have been coming in keep telling me how much it’s going to be a sad, sad situation for South Buffalo because not only are they losing Gerry, but they’re losing the bookstore.
“The customers were so good to him, it was like a family.”
Maciuba said she reached out to libraries and other bookstores but they didn’t want the remaining books. She and her daughters and brother are determined to find a home for the titles her husband acquired through trading.
“I’ve just got to find homes for these books,” Maciuba said. “He would haunt me if I threw one book out. He did not believe in that. There’s always a home for a book. And I’m doing my best.”
An avid reader, Gerry Maciuba opened the store on Seneca Street and Harlem Road as a way of staying independent despite being slowed by muscular dystrophy. It moved to its current location at 2292 Seneca St., near Indian Church Road, in the mid-1980s.
Gerry and Rose Maciuba met in 1989. Rose was an aide for Gerry’s mother, who also had muscular dystrophy, and the couple married in 1990.
Gerry Maciuba was confined to a wheelchair for many years but continued to work at the shop until he lost his ability to speak.
From 2010 on, the store was rarely open.
“A lot people were telling him you’ve got to think of the family, you’re not making money in this store, you should get rid of it,” Rose Maciuba said. “I would not say that to him because that was his reason to get up every day.
“He said South Buffalo was where his heart was.”