"It will still be a bookstore, with added flavor," says Sallie. The store will close for renovations and reopen on Sept. 15, says Zach, a computer technician who lives on the property and will manage the new enterprise for his grandparents.
"I see it as a place that will offer opportunities for local dealers, and where people can wander and browse and maybe find something they weren't expecting," he says.
The same could be said of Mullica Hill, which looks a bit like a New England village amid the steadily suburbanizing farmlands of Harrison Township, Gloucester County.
Main Street, which is Route 45, saw antique shops proliferate in the 1980s. The recession, and the expansion of online auctions, had dimmed Mullica Hill's luster in recent years.
Lately, several businesses have opened or been renovated and streetscape improvements have begun. A $16 million, 11/2-mile bypass for through traffic - which regularly clogged Main Street, particularly on summer weekends - opened in January.
"It's always a matter of recreating yourself," says Pat Settar, a Realtor at Prudential Fox & Roach in Mullica Hill. She also heads the Harrison Township Beautification Committee. "Instead of just being a freeway, Main Street is now something people who live in the community can enjoy."
I agree. Before the bypass, crossing Main Street required shrewd planning, athletic prowess, and luck.
"We don't have specific traffic counts, but you don't need them to recognize the impact, especially now, in the summer months," Mayor Louis Manzo says.
"Main Street was a carbon monoxide parking lot on weekends. Because of the traffic, people would avoid the area. And when they avoid the area, they're avoiding the opportunity to frequent the shops," Manzo says. "The bypass has had exactly the impact we hoped for on our Main Street. It has made it better."
Rocco Doto, who has owned Kings Row Antiques for eight years, is opening an antique dealers' co-op.
"The building used to be a home. The floors are original and the rooms are fabulous," says Doto, who describes Mullica Hill as a "great, great" town.
"I can't say the slowdown in the economy has been kind to us, and we could use some more restaurants," he adds. "But we are a destination, and we're trying to get the message out to local people."
A monthly promotion called "Second Saturdays" began in April 2011, and features extended store hours and themed events. "Hopefully it will catch on," Doto says.
"It's gaining traction," says Manzo, who says the township expects good things to come from its $650,000 effort to rebuild sidewalks and install 37 new decorative streetlights along the southern stretch of Main Street. The streetscape improvement project is expected to finish by the end of October.
"Mullica Hill has got the backdrop. The canvas is [ready] to be painted on, but the economy has been terrible the last few years."
Nevertheless, business at Murphy's has been steady, Sallie says. She's retiring because she and Monty, her husband of 53 years, want to travel and spend more time at their West Virginia vacation home.
She'll miss the business, "but in a good way."
Perhaps now she'll even have a chance "to read the books I've stashed over the years."
Contact Kevin Riordan at 856-779-3845 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @inqkriordan. Read the metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at www.phillynews.com/blinq.