St. Petersburg, Florida -- The moment you walk through the doors of Haslam's Bookstore, you know right away your experience is going to be different here than the mega bookstore a few miles away.
"You can just smell the history in here," said Belinda Felgeiras.
You'll find most of the same books at Haslam's. Store owners boast a collection of more than 400,000 books ranging from the most recent best sellers to antique prints from the 18th century.
"There's an incredible selection here. I think you can find almost anything you want," said Jan Wampler, who picked up a poetry book from the 1920's.
The independent bookstore, which is the largest in the state, has been writing history in downtown St. Pete since 1933, but its most recent chapters haven't been easy with the emergence of the mega store and the e-reader revolution.
"Doesn't bode well for things carrying on the way they have," said co-owner Ray Hinst, who married into the family owned business.
He wasn't surprised to learn the owners of Borders may file for bankruptcy this week. While company owners have not publicly announced plans to file for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection, the Wall Street Journal reports insiders say the company is making plans.
The plans could include the closure of 200 of its 670 stores nationwide and layoffs of thousands of employees as it restructures into a more viable business that will focus more on the e-reader market, according to reports.
"It's an industry in transition," Hinst pointed out.
While it's hard to say the future will hold for his business, Hinst says they've been fortunate so far.
On Tuesday morning, at least a dozen customers were in the store at any given time.
"We have been fortunate to have a community that will support us and that we are able to thrive in," Hinst told 10 News.
The indie bookstore doesn't just have history on its side, it also offers a few things customers say they can't get anywhere else.
"This is just so much more personal. They're here for you. If you have any questions, they're here for you and they walk you right through anything you need," said Felgeiras.
"It's just a special place. As soon as you walk in, you feel like it's something special. History is here. I love it," said Tanya Santana as she looked up from her book on small business start-ups.
You can bet most chain stores don't have a store cat like Haslam's. Tea Cup the cat was born at the store and is there to greet customers as they walk through the door.
"She recognizes some of them," said Hinst.
And, you likely won't find spirits wandering the aisles of your neighborhood chain store.
"We kind of take it with a grain of salt," said Hinst as he shrugged his shoulders. He says they've had paranormal investigators in the store before and are told there are several spirits that pay the store a visit...including a very famous spirit.
"I was here late one night. I was doing some straightening over here and all of the sudden, boom boom," explained Hinst as he pointed toward the collection of author Jack Kerouac.
It was Kerouac's books on the floor.
Hinst says the author frequented the store in life and was known to re-arrange his books from the bottom shelf to the top shelf.
"Every author wants their books at eye level and so he would move the stuff. In those days, there were no computers. We used to keep track visually and it screwed up everything all the time," he laughed. "He did it on a regular basis. "
He's never seen a ghost and doesn't really believe one way or another.
"They're welcome as long as they're behaved," he shrugged.
For now, he's focused on the living customers and continuing to offer them a service and experience they won't get anywhere else.
While he hasn't quite boarded the e-reader train, he promises Haslam's will be around as long as people are in search of the printed word.
"Hopefully we'll be here. Maybe we'll be in the antique business," he said.
Laura Kadechka, 10 News