By Cameron Fairchild

Some say the old opera house on the square in Denton is lilac-colored. Others say purple. For the past quarter-century it’s been a community icon, and it’s meant a lot of green for home-town used book business Recycled Books.

The store has been in the old opera house for 25-years, but the store got started years before, in 1983, in a tiny slot in a shopping center. Owner Don Foster says the store scratched out a small clientele, until one day, things reached a tipping point.

“Suddenly, this guy came in with a load of incredible art books. And that the start of it. After that, it was like, BAM.”

The store expanded – and expanded.

“We suddenly had to start hiring employees We suddenly had to start being open more days, longer hours.”

And finally moved into the Old Opera House on the square. And Foster feels like that was another tipping point… this one, in the rebirth of Denton’s town square.

“When we moved to the square, it was not like this. Most of these businesses were not here. There was not a lot to attract people to the square at that time. And I feel that we are partly responsible for this growth in the square. It gave other people the courage to open their own businesses on the square.”

Foster says visits to the store’s 17,000-square feet of books and music – that’s more than four acres – have become rites-of-passage for many North Texas families.

“There was a grandmother in here the other day with little kids, you know. And she said ‘My daughter, I used to bring my daughter in here when she was little.’ I guess the grand kids came up and she said, ‘I want you to take them to Recycled Books so they’ll get the experience also.’ So that’s great, to hear stuff like that.”

And now in the information age, Recycled Books has become famous around the world.

“There was some Scandinavian folks came in and wanted to do a story on us. And it was, like, multiple pages in some Scandinavian language I couldn’t read.”