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Downtown Springfield may open a new chapter
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Pictured are some of the classic hardbound backs available at Old Town Bookstore and Antiques. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue
A new location on Springfield’s Laurel Street feels right at home for Jamey Stancell.
Stancell, along with business partner Jim Mathis, has opened Old Town Bookstore and Antiques, moving his business to the middle of Effingham County from the middle of downtown Savannah.
Stancell, who has lived in Springfield for two and a half years, owned a store on Habersham Street for five years.
“I drove back and forth every day,” he said. 
But as he got to the know the city and saw how it wanted to grow, he weighed moving his store to Springfield.
“More of my clients are moving here,” he said.
City Manager Brett Bennett asked Stancell if he ever thought about moving his business from downtown Savannah to downtown Springfield.
“It wasn’t too long before he was applying for a business license,” Bennett said.
The store is jammed full of antiques, from furniture and art to books and even vinyl records for those who enjoy the sounds of the LP to the CD.
All the artwork in the store is original, including the collection of “Funky Chickens” done by noted folk artist Ernest Lee from Columbia, S.C.
Knick-knacks and décor items also line the walls, and the furniture and even china settings cover a wide range of ages.
“I love mid-century modern,” Stancell said. “It’s always a work in progress. We’re always buying, always selling, always swapping.”
There’s a layaway plan and they also sell on consignment. Stancell has been involved in antiques for about eight years and Mathis, who lives in Rincon, has been in antiques for about 15 years.
“And we both know a lot of people in the antiques business,” Mathis added.
When picking antique furniture pieces, Stancell said people shouldn’t be caught up in matching a mahogany table with a mahogany sideboard and chairs.
“It can be a mahogany table and an oak sideboard,” he said.
The 2,700 square foot store is also home to a large collection of old and rare books. 
“It grew from nothing,” Stancell said. “It’s just a good, old-fashioned bookstore.”
He’s acquired the collection of hardbacks and paperbacks through other collections and through other people bringing them in. He counts 4,500 hardbacks and 3,000 paperbacks on his shelves. Hardbacks are $5 each, and paperbacks are $2.50, or five for $10. 
Also among Stancell’s trove of treasures — and standing out among the jewelry for sale — is another gem, an autographed baseball from Hall of
Famer Pee Wee Reese. Reese, the longtime Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop, lived in Louisville, Ky., where Stancell ran a sports card shop. Reese would visit once every three months or so and sign a few baseballs.
It took Stancell a month to move from the Savannah locale into the new store in Springfield. Within in five minutes after he opened his doors for business, the first customer walked in. 
“The reception has been great,” he said.
There’s also a different feeling from the customers, browsers and neighbors in Springfield.
“There were people at Habersham and 41st who didn’t know I was there,” Stancell said. “We’ve had a lot of compliments on our presence.”
Of course, having his business in Springfield also allows Stancell to be closer to home. But he also is enthusiastic about what he sees as Springfield’s prospects.
“I think this area has a ton of potential,” he said. “We need to bring business right here in Springfield. You’re going to pay more in Savannah — I
promise you.”
Mathis also notices how different an environment Springfield is over Savannah.
“Everybody knows everybody,” he said. “They support local businesses.”
Bennett said Old Town Books and Antiques is a “perfect fit” for what the city has in mind for its downtown.
“This is exactly what we need,” he said. “You’ve got to have all these specialty shops. Hopefully, we’ll have the streetscape project starting in September.”
Bennett also praised Stancell’s interest and concern in the city beyond being a business owner. Stancell has been appointed to two of the city’s boards, including the park promenade board. Stancell also envisions beginning a downtown merchants’ association.
“Part of moving to Springfield is the elected community is receptive to change,” Stancell said. “They encourage growth and they seem to be proactive in a lot of ways. The city seems willing to work with businesses.”