Rick Krause, 62, of Oklahoma City, and his son Alexander Krause, 26, of Pasadena, Calif., shopped patiently for books as they walked down the aisles with flashlights in hand.
Others wore headlamps, like miners in a coal mine.
It looked like the dark basement of a library, but a smoky smell lingered in the air.
Book lovers could find rare and used books at Aladdin Book Shoppe during the final few shopping days before Christmas, as long as they used some extra lighting.
A fire at the landmark Oklahoma City bookstore came at a bad time, the co-owner said.
Paula Walker opened the shop despite the smell of smoke and lack of electricity and heat. Crews had not restored electrical power Friday, six days after the fire.
“The week before Christmas is a horrible time for this to happen,” Walker said.
The fire broke out about 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15 in an awning over the bookstore in the Mayfair Village shopping center at NW 50 and N May Avenue.
Walker was grateful Oklahoma City firefighters were able to respond quickly and knock down the blaze that caused about $22,000 damage. A firewall kept the flames from spreading.
Walker said the old books in the store could have been an inferno if the fire had spread. There are more than 40,000 books in the shop.
“If the fire had gotten to these books, the majority of them are older books, so they are drier,” Walker said. “It would have been a really big fire.”
The fire put a dent in her Christmas season business. A number of customers said they would rather wait until the electricity was restored and the heat back on before trying to shop for books.
Aladdin Book Shoppe opened downtown in 1930. For many years it was located at NW 24 and N Pennsylvania Avenue before moving to the Mayfair location.
Despite smoke and water damage to the building, most of the books are intact and only three books appeared damaged from water that leaked from the ceiling, Walker said
She said this was the second fire in recent years that started in the awning.
Fire investigators have not determined the exact cause, but it could be electrical.
Walker said the shop will remain open despite the fire.
“It's chilly and dark but we're doing business by flashlight and headlamp. I'm providing the headlamps,” Walker said.