By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
The final chapter: Humpus Bumpus closing after nearly 30 years in Cumming
Humpus Bumpus

A longtime local bookstore will soon close its doors, but the building and the books are planned to continue helping the community.

After almost 30 years on Atlanta Highway (Hwy. 9 south), Humpus Bumpus Books is closing on Aug. 31. Owner Paul Cossman said he feels now is the right time to make the decision to close the store.

“I decided that it is getting close to the time in my life where I need to start doing some other things,” he said. “I love my work here, love my customers, love the community, they love us, but sometimes time just pushes us inexorably onwards and you have to make a decision about what you want to do next, and there are other things I want to do.”

A new home

The building currently used by Humpus Bumpus Books will be taken over by Building Bridges Therapy, which plans to begin offering therapy for preschoolers through young adults with disabilities this fall.

The business, owned by David and Marla Mann, currently has a location at 1389 Weber Industrial Drive just of Ronald Reagan Boulevard. The new location will allow Building Bridges “to provide a different structure for services rather than the traditional one-on-one model offered at the current location.”

The center will offer group services, including adaptive preschool groups and vocations and life skills and will allow clients to work on social skills with peers their ages.

A news release said the company plans to honor the legacy of Humpus Bumpus owner Paul Cossman “by using his store to impact the lives of families that have children with special needs.”

Cossman said his children and most of his grandchildren do not live in the area and that he is ready to move on to seeing them more, seeing old friends and having time for his hobbies.

“Basically, I need time to just slow down and do other things while I’m still young enough and able to do it,” he said. “I have to decide, do I want to use up my remaining years here doing what I love, but nonetheless doing nothing else, or do I want to perhaps experience some other things while I am able?”

Many customers were in the store on Wednesday and expressed sadness to see the business going away.

“I love these local book stores. They’re fewer and fewer and harder to find,” said Kristy Caston, a Lumpkin Country resident who stops at the store when she comes to town. “I love to keep them in business and come and get books here because I’m thankful for those small bookstores. I love books, and my family loves books, and there’s something about walking into a quaint place and talking to somebody and somebody helping you choose your book or helping you find it or give you recommendations.”

Melinda Kunzman, a teacher at Sawnee Elementary School, said the store was an affordable way to get books for her classroom.

"Something with meaning"

Humpus Bumpus opened on Aug. 6, 1990.

A photo from those first days shows the now bustling highway as a two-lane road with houses in place of numerous businesses. Even the location of the store was once a house, and rooms of books with names like “kitchen,” “garage” and “den of deep discounts” honor that past.

“I got into the book business because I was looking 30 years ago to do something with meaning, and I wanted to make a living but wanted to do something with meaning,” Cossman said, “and came up with a book store because there weren’t any in Cumming.”

I love words, and I thought Humpus Bumpus kind of connoted the sound of jumping around, and I remember saying to my babies, ‘Quit making so much Humpus Bumpus around the house,’ and my friends started knowing me for that phrase.
Paul Cossman, owner, Humpus Bumpus Books

After customers who couldn’t find items they were looking for asked where “the real” book store was, Cossman began expanding offerings and said the goal was for everyone to live with a copy of what they wanted or to order books they didn’t have.

Having dedicated customers helped keep the business afloat in a time when many bookstores, especially local ones, shuttered.

“We were competing with all the big chain bookstores. We gradually ran them out of business, like Borders,” Cossman joked. “Now we’re up against [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos.”

"A lot of time, love and money" 

Until the closing, Humpus Bumpus is having a 50 percent off sale for all books, which can be paid for with customers’ store credit.

Book-lovers may see a continuation of the businesses, albeit with a new name. 

“I have one employee who has expressed continuing the business in the area if she can get a lease that is reasonable enough,” Cossman said. “It would be another name, but I would teach her the business … so that she could continue and there could be a continuity of service for customers.”

He said nothing is set in stone but that he should know for sure in coming weeks.

Another reason Cossman said he moved ahead with the closing was the offer to buy the building. While he had previous offers to build big-box stores or gas stations, Cossman said the building will be put to a better use.

“It’s a company called Building Bridges therapy [owned by] a young couple that do a very good thing; teaching and training autistic children to integrate into society and occupational therapy and different kinds of therapy.

“The other things is, this young couple is not going to tear down my building. They’re going to use it as it is, and I’ve invested a lot of time, love and money, so that’s gratifying to me.”

Cossman said one question he always gets is where the store’s unique name comes from. He said it was from the October 1983 edition of “National Geographic,” which had a feature article on the Mutiny on the Bounty, an event in 1789 where members of the British Royal Navy overthrew their captain and settled on Pacific islands.

He said when the sailors landed, the islands inhabitants held a feast of foods with “island, bouncy-sounding names.” 

“They had an item called Humpus Bumpus, which was fried banana burgers,” he said. “I love words, and I thought Humpus Bumpus kind of connoted the sound of jumping around, and I remember saying to my babies, ‘Quit making so much Humpus Bumpus around the house,’ and my friends started knowing me for that phrase.

“When I was thinking of a name for the store, I thought, ‘Why not my favorite word? Humpus Bumpus, a Feast of Books.’"