“I don’t like the word ‘secondhand,’” says Desmond Miller, general manager of 2nd & Charles, a unique store specializing in the resale of books, video games, vinyl records and collectables. The store’s name does refer to repurposing, as in second wind, second chance or second life. The “Charles” refers to Charles Anderson, son of the founder of Books-a-Million, Inc., which owns 2nd & Charles.
The quality of the store’s items makes the term “used” seem inappropriate. There are so many new items available. 2nd & Charles accepts merchandise from “people with exceptional taste.” The customer can explore the store while waiting for his items to be evaluated. Or, the value can be sent by email or text. Purchases can be made with this store credit or it can be a cash transaction. “We do have standards for acceptable items,” says Miller. “We also consider our current stock and resale possibilities.”
Books, comics, CDs, DVDs, board games, toys, musical instruments, video games, electronics, etc. are accepted. Not accepted are PC games, VHS tapes, phones and damaged items. A survey of the store shows an extensive selection of vinyl records. “Surprisingly, they are making a comeback,” says Miller. Board games are also popular. “They have changed some — more complex and engaging,” Miller adds.
The website says that 2nd & Charles is a place to “buy and sell, discover, play, trade and find adventure.” Its slogan is “sell what you don’t want; buy what you do.”
2nd & Charles began in 2010. The first store was in Hoover, Alabama. Currently, headquarters is located in Birmingham, Alabama. 2nd & Charles is in 16 states; there are five stores in Virginia. “We do not do a lot of advertising,” says Miller. “We rely on word-of-mouth and we have a presence on social media. We encourage feedback.” The company participates in GenCon, a “huge” convention which showcases games and is held every year in Indianapolis.
“We are filling the gap left by closing book stores,” says Miller. “For example, we have a large Christian book section. In some ways we are like a traditional book store, since we do buy new releases.”
To promote the store, Miller schedules events throughout the year. Many are especially for children. They feature themed activities, games and story time. “I like the family approach that the company promotes,” says Miller.
The Denbigh store, which has approximately 30,000 square feet, opened three years ago. Miller has been manager since November 2019. He has been in retail his entire career. “I was born in New Jersey and came to Virginia when I was 16,” he says. He graduated from high school in Virginia Beach and from Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania. While in college he worked for The Gap. “I continued there after graduation. I liked it and kept moving up. I became a trainer, which I especially enjoyed.”
Miller moved around, spending some time in Atlanta. Then he returned to Virginia. “I got restless,” he says with a smile. “But I don’t want to move any more. I hope to have my own store some day.” Miller works long hours. “There is not much time for hobbies,” he says. He does enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons. “Yes, it is still popular,” he says. “I like the cooperative/competitive aspects,” I’m not really an outdoor guy.”
Miller looks forward to achieving his goals. He especially enjoys coaching employees and developing talent. “The store is like a family. It’s a happy place,” he adds.
TO THE POINT:
2nd & Charles
Address: 12747 Jefferson Ave.,
Newport News VA 23602
Contact: Desmond Miller, general manager
Business: New and resale merchandise