PTC’s beloved Omega Books closing doors after nearly 30 years

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Karen Duncan (left) and Rene Mittenzwei (right) will say goodbye to Omega Books on Saturday after its nearly 30 years in Peachtree City. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

For as long as most Peachtree City residents can remember, Omega Books has been a part of the town’s fabric. For nearly 30 years, Omega has been the hometown source for new and used books and top-notch service. This Saturday, August 29, Omega closes its doors for the last time, leaving behind a big imprint on a lot of book lovers.
Omega opened in March of 1986, becoming a part of PTC for the past 29 and a half years. Karen Duncan, the owner, has been a member of Omega since 1990.
“It’s all been wonderful. It’s family,” said Duncan. “We’ve had so many employees who have gone off and come back to work here, and it’s family with a lot of the people in Peachtree City. Their kids grew up going to this store, and they come in married with children or in college.”
Sadly, many people didn’t realize what they will lose in Omega until it was too late.
“We’re going to miss our bookstore, but I think the community is going to miss this store more,” said Rene Mittenzwei, manager at Omega and a part of the team since the late 1990s.
“We never thought of us as meaning a lot to the community, we just liked what we were doing, but we’re hearing it now,” said Duncan. “We appreciatie that. That was something we didn’t expect.”
As a small store, Omega has been able to provide the type of personal service you just don’t see anymore. A big source of pride for the team was their ability to help customers find new favorites.
“A lot of people are going to miss that personal touch. Just this morning, three women in a row were just in tears,” said Duncan, noting that the staff would help many women just like them who do not use the internet and relied on Omega’s uncanny ability to find them their next novel. “We do that with everybody, and we’re good at it. We would have them name one or two authors they like, and we would give them five new authors to read. We rarely made mistakes. We opened up a whole new world of writers to so many people, and we’ve loved every minute of doing it.”
“That personal touch is our claim to fame,” said Mittenzwei. “We’re a giant book club that is open six days a week.”
Another Omega favorite was their regular book signings. They brought out the public and celebrated a lot of talented local writers. That made an impact on a lot of people.
“I’ve got some real upset ones right now,” said Duncan of area scribes they’ve featured. “They don’t know what they’re going to do now, but it’s been great.”
They may not even realize what an impact they’ve made on so many writers yet, but they have.
“Omega is a place that nurtures both readers and writers. They have a love and respect for the written word, and they do everything they can to pass that on to everyone who enters the store,” said Michael Boylan, one of the many local writers Omega has featured over the years. “I am sad to see them go but glad that our friendship and our shared love of books will go on.”
In addition to the local writers, Omega also hosted many nationally-recognized writers.
“We’ve had a lot of biggies in here, too,” said Duncan. “Zell Miller (who did three signings) will always be the biggest we’ve ever had. He was very supportive of independent bookstores. And Mary Kay Andrews signings were a yearly thing.”
“We’ve had our mix of New York Times bestseller authors and local authors,” said Mittenzwei, noting, “Our last book signing was just last week with Debby Giusti. She’s a local author who grew and now has gotten national recognition.”
There have also been big events at Omega and memorable moments that helped reignite a love of books for many readers.
“We had midnight parties here for every Harry Potter release. We had a man that would, at every midnight party, bring his grandchildren in and buy each of them a hardcover book,” said Duncan, adding that Potter’s popularity reenergized the industry. “And Oprah did, too, with her book club. People started reading more because of her.”
Even as technology changed the book industry, Omega stuck to what they did best, and it was appreciated.
“We are an old-fashioned bookstore. We have been nothing but a bookstore, and I love it,” said Duncan. “Our motto is ‘Books without batteries,’ and we stuck to it. You’re looking at a computer all day, and I don’t find what the joy is of continuing that with a novel. Books are not going to disappear, even if they’re trying really hard to get rid of us.”
Mittenzwei talked about a young man who had just been in the store to buy a variety of books and couldn’t bring himself to switch to e-readers.
“You don’t usually hear that from someone in their early 20s,” she noted. “He did not want to use a device. He said he likes to feel the books in his hands because he learned that from his dad.”
Omega has always been special to the many who have worked there throughout the years.
“We’re a business, but we love what we do. We don’t make much money, but, everyone who works here, they love working here,” said Duncan. “We’ve had the best of the best.”
A love of books was fostered in many employees who have moved on from the store, whether it’s one who teaches English at a university in China or one who is a librarian at the University of West Georgia. Omega did whatever they could to help them pursue their dreams.
“Some leave and then come back. It’s just a good place to work. It’s very unique. We’ve nurtured a lot of young people through their college years and their Master’s degrees,” said Mittenzwei. “They were young people who came in here because this was a place where you could work and go to school and be accommodated.”
Omega will be gone, but it will always hold a special place. Even just its storefront will have big shoes to fill. Good thing the shopping center has a good steward.
“I just hope someone good moves in. It’s the most wonderful shopping strip from one end to the other,” said Duncan. “It has probably the best landlord on the face of the earth (in Bill Hooper). That man is so wonderful. He’s just a genuinely good soul who loved this store.”
The books will find a new home, too. What isn’t sold in the ongoing 50-percent off sale will be given to charity, schools, or sent overseas to soldiers, something they’ve always done.
“The books will have another life. That’s always been our motto,” said Mittenzwei. “Books would have to be falling apart in our hands, and we would loathe to throw it away. Every book got another life, so these will, too.”
Omega Books may be gone this time next week, but the love for reading and the impact they left on the community will be forever written in the pages of Peachtree City’s history.

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Christopher Dunn has been the sports editor for Fayette Newspapers since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Game Day magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.


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