For those who enjoy looking for little known literary treasures, know that you are not alone. Haslam's has its own supernatural book lover who haunts the store in his own special way.
Haslam's books was begun by John and Mary Haslam in 1933, during the Great Depression. Mary sold handcrafts, roses and doilies, as well as used magazines. As the store's reputation grew, so did its merchandise. New books were added to the shelves during the 1950s. Haslam's moved to accommodate its growing bulk of books, settling in its current location in
1966. In the late 70s, the owners expanded into the People's Gas building next door. Later they bought the building and combined the two buildings into one, making Haslam's one of the largest new and used bookstores in the Southeast. This was also the time that the staff began to experience unusual phenomena in the store.
Customers and employees began to comment that they sensed someone behind them, but when they turned no one was there. On occasion, some felt an invisible hand tap them on the shoulder. Even Ray Hinst, who currently co-owns and manages Haslam's, has come across sporadic cold spots in the building.
Sometimes, books mysteriously fell off the shelves. Several of those who know of the ghost legend believe that the spirit of Jack Kerouac was responsible for the disturbances. Kerouac was a writer who spent the last years of his life living in St. Petersburg. He was infamous among the staff for coming into Haslam's and moving his books to locations that he felt better displayed them. He often moved them to a higher spot, eye-level to patrons, so they would be seen. This, however, ran contrary to Haslam's style of arranging books in alphabetical order. A few times, Charles Haslam, Hinst's father-in-law, would talk with Kerouac about not moving the books. Kerouac, it seems, was little deterred. After the writer died, Hinst often thought it was his spirit who returned to Haslam's to rearrange the books as he had in life.