When the first Half Price Bookstore welcomed customers on July 27, 1972, there was no telling what the future held. What founders Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson saw as endless potential behind the doors of an old laundromat in Dallas, Texas, turned into what is arguably the most beloved chain of bookstores across America.
And it’s no wonder.
Throughout the years, as the number of books bought and sold has increased, Half Price Books’ mission of being fair to employees and customers, promoting literacy and being kind to the environment while remaining financially viable is intact. One thing’s for sure: The HPB story isn’t exactly linear. We’ve had our fair share of bumps in the road…and even a couple of animal adventures along the way, but we’re still here. Thanks to the sweet combination of tenacity from employees and loyalty from customers, Half Price Books has managed to survive, and thrive, for 50 years.
Make no mistake. This isn’t just our celebration. If you’ve ever wandered into one of our stores to pick up a little something, whether it was the latest LP from your favorite rock band or the romance novel your significant other simply couldn’t do without, HPB’s 50th Anniversary is a part of your story, too.
We couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s to the next chapter: 50 more years of buying and selling to our beloved booklovers.
While you’re here, why not take a walk down memory lane with us? Check out the timeline below for a curiouser and curiouser list of HPB facts from the last 50 years (bonus points if you can name the famous children’s book we’re referencing there) and shout out your favorite HPB memory in the comments!
Our story begins! Pat Anderson and Ken Gjemre open the first Half Price Books store in a converted Laundromat in Dallas, Texas.
We expanded to our first state outside of Texas… Wisconsin!
A deer crashed through the front window of HPB Maplewood in Minnesota and decided to browse the shelves a bit before making its way back out into the wild.
Half Price Books conducted its first “Bedtime Storybook Contest” and published the first edition of Say Good Night to Illiteracy with the top 20 stories submitted by customers and chosen by librarians, teachers and writers.
Half Price Books founder Pat Anderson passes away, ushering in the leadership of her youngest daughter, Sharon Anderson Wright.
HPB encourages customers to donate a book and rewrite a kid’s story with the kickoff of its annual Half Pint Library Book Drive.
Thousands of bees made a buzz in front of HPB Cedar Hill before the assistant manager bravely sequestered the area and called for their removal.
Half Price Books pledges to donate 1 million books per year to domestic charitable organizations via The Million Book Donation Project.
A bat was found clinging to the ceiling of the break area at our HPB Bandera location in San Antonio, TX.
Meanwhile, at HPB Maplewood in Minnesota, a pet snake was found as a stowaway in a box of children’s books at the Buy Counter.
HPB’s CEO, Sharon Anderson Wright, is featured in a Fortune magazine article that lauds the company’s ability to defy the anti-brick-and-mortar bookstore trend.
Later in the year, lovers of vampire lore poured into the Flagship HPB to catch a rare glimpse of renowned gothic fiction author Anne Rice at one of our most well-attended store signings to date.
Colleen Hoover’s author event brought the sizzling romance of her novel, Regretting You, and a sweeping fan base to the Flagship HPB.
Tuna, the Instagram celebrity dog, put his best paw forward during a meet-and-greet with 200 fans at HPB Northpointe Plaza in Cleveland, Ohio.
A therapy pony pranced its way into the hearts of customers and employees alike at our Southpark Meadows location in Austin, Texas.
Meanwhile, Dav Pilkey and his beloved children’s book characters captured the hearts of more than 3,000 children and parents during his Do Good Tour stop at the Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City, TX.
Actor and author Neil Patrick Harris also kept the kids reading in 2019 and met up with HPB at Texas Hall at UT Arlington to promote the third installment of his series, The Magic Misfits.
Employee pups far and wide helped Half Price Books employees get through the pandemic by manning the floors and making themselves available for belly rubs.
In a rare in-store cat appearance, Fernando the Cat stopped by HPB St. Louis Park to give the employees a good glimpse of his mohawk (caused by a bit of grooming trouble) and find all of the perfect hiding spots.
Plastic Bag Free by 2023! Half Price Books made the pledge to put plastic bags in the past by making them available by request only at stores across the country.
HPB turns the big 5-0!