FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — For 27 years, Humpus Bumpus has been the go-to place to buy a book in Forsyth County because for most of those years it was one of the only independent bookstores in the area.
But come August 31, the staple will close the cover.
Owner Paul Cossman said when the store first opened on Ga. 9 near Ga. 400’s Exit 14, there was only a Walmart, McDonald’s and Humpus Bumpus.
“It’s been a great joy,” Cossman said. “It’s been my life for years, and it is a great pleasure to serve the community. They’ve appreciated me and what we do here.”
Since Cossman recently turned 69, he thought now is as good a time as any to retire.
“I have children in California who are never coming back here to live, so I have to visit them,” Cossman said. “An opportunity came to sell the building, and I like the people who are buying it. It’s another community-oriented business that does therapy for children.”
It’s been a long journey through the years for Cossman, who opened the business after toying with various careers and deciding he wanted to open a book store.
“I decided I really wanted to do something that matters both to me and my community,” Cossman said. “I didn’t care too much about the money as long as I could make a living. I discovered the business and knew nothing about retail or books, but figured I could learn and took a chance.”
The building at 703 Atlanta Road was already owned by Cossman before he opened shop. And after just 58 days, he was officially in business.
A friend helped him build shelves, he bought books for pennies and put ads in local newspapers. In about two months had purchased 10,000 books.
“I found there was a demand and want for this type of business,” Cossman said. “People immediately began coming in. In that time, the only place you could buy a book was in a bookstore. Very few other places had books.”
After he opened, big chain book retailers began trickling into the area. But people kept thundering into the local shop.
“People were coming in every day,” Cossman said. “This was the place as the center of town. There wasn’t much here besides woods.”
Within roughly six months after opening, the community knew where Humpus Bumpus was.
“They all fell in love with it,” Cossman said. “Even non-readers thought it was cute.”
And while Cossman said he didn’t make a ton of money from the business, he gave and received a lot of happiness over the years.
One of Cossman’s employees may soon be opening her own bookstore, but he said that’s a story for another day.
“It was a great 27 years,” Cossman said. “At the end of the day, I can say, ‘I’m glad I made my choice.’ People walked in, loosened up and are like family. I’ll miss that.”