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Shakespeare Books owner buys Ashland Recycled Furniture

Judi Honore, owner of the soon-to-be-defunct Shakespeare Books & Antiques, has bought Ashland Recycled Furniture on A Street.

Honore said she closed the deal for ARF Aug. 30, paid cash for the business and did it mainly so her longtime manager, Donna Jean Morris, would continue to have a place to work. Morris is now in charge of operating that store.

Public records indicate she filed with the state as the new owner of ARF Aug. 19, taking over from Kathleen Buffington. Honore gave notice to the landlord of the Shakespeare Books space Aug. 22 and announced to customers Aug. 30 she would close the bookstore at the end of October.

Honore attributed the bookstore closure to declining sales and stress stemming from her ongoing dispute with Oregon Shakespeare Festival over a display of banned books in the front window that some found offensive. (Editor's note: Honore still does business off-site under the Shakespeare Books & Antiques name.)

On July 26, OSF directed staff to not patronize the bookstore for any festival-related business, following complaints by actors in the all-black “The Wiz” that the display of banned books in the window was racially offensive. The festival has since said it had made only one purchase from the bookstore in recent years, so any decline in business is not attributable to OSF's own boycott, which it has not asked anyone else to join in.

Honore disputed suggestions she was looking to move or close her business prior to the dispute with OSF, saying her bookstore was doing well and she was only looking for a new spot because her inventory is three times what the store would hold.

ARF is selling only used furniture, no books, she said. She will put all her books in storage till she finds space for a bigger store. 

“Once I found out the boycott was happening and there was a good chance this store was going south,” said Honore, that’s when she decided that “when I get the emotional energy, I will reopen a bookstore in Ashland somewhere. But this (dispute) wore me down so much, there’s no joy in it ... I don’t want to sell furniture ... I had no intent to move until this happened.”

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.