Saying they're unaffected by a limping economy, two retail outletts have opened doors in past weeks on the same corner in the heart of Ashland.

Saying they're unaffected by a limping economy, two retail outlets have opened doors in past weeks on the same corner in the heart of Ashland.

The Book Exchange, an Ashland institution for 40 years, moved to Pioneer Street, a block from its old Oak Street location, while a Stop n Shop opened around the corner on Lithia Way, offering the first downtown convenience store in recent memory.

"We've seen no negatives from the economy," says Book Exchange owner Cindy Munroe, who buys, trades and sells used books. "I wouldn't have moved if we were doing poorly or even if sales were flat in the recession."

Stop n Shop owner Sunny Sanjeev, owner of the Little Market in Medford and the Gold Hill Market, expanded to Ashland, he says, because his other convenience stores have done well. In addition, he said, there hasn't been one in downtown Ashland, where both locals and tourists need a place they can "grab and go" with pop, bottled water, slushies, wraps, stuffed croissants and other instant nourishment.

"We're doing better than I expected. The city (planners) were excited to see us come in and were very helpful. It's been a long dream of mine to open in Ashland, starting from scratch," said Sanjeev, who bought the building housing his shop and the bookstore.

Sanjeev said he was encouraged to start the convenience store in downtown because, when he walked through, he could see no place for tourists or downtown workers to grab a quick bite. Also, there was no other place to buy a pack of cigarettes in all of downtown, he said. He also sells soft and hard ice cream cones.

The Book Exchange, which takes in more than 100 used books a day and stocks up to 50,000, started decades ago as Edna's Book Exchange and was still called "Edna's" up until November, when Munroe moved, almost doubling her book space — now 2,000 square feet.

One loyal customer, Emmy Bell, lauded the bookstore as "a great place to broaden my son's curriculum, because they have a good homeschool section. This is my son, Liam's, favorite place in the whole world."

"It's a 'reader's bookstore' for people who love to read, not collect books," said Munroe.

It fulfilled her dream of owning a bookstore, something she gained skills to do in her business degree from Southern Oregon University in 1988.

"People just about died when they saw we'd moved out of the old place," said Munroe, a self described refugee from medical administration. "But now they're happy to know where we are and that we've expanded."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.