Joe Shuman, a bookseller who turned Trover Shop into a fixture on Capitol Hill, stocking the shelves of neighborhood homes, congressional offices and Library of Congress reading rooms for half a century, died June 6 at his home in Rockville, Md. He was 88.
The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease, said his son Al Shuman.
In the life span of Trover Shop, 26 Congresses — the 85th through the 110th — came and went. Democrats held the House of Representatives, lost it and regained it. Several generations of staffers descended on Capitol Hill, made their mark, large or small, on the nation’s laws, and retired.
Through it all, Mr. Shuman’s bookstore was there, a gathering place for political junkies of all persuasions, until it closed in 2009.
Mr. Shuman purchased Trover Shop in 1958 with a friend, Harvey Weinstein. They operated the bookstore with their wives at its original Independence Avenue address in Southeast Washington until the location was selected as the site of the Library of Congress’s Madison building.
In the mid-1960s, Trover Shop moved to its longtime home in the 200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE, and Mr. Shuman continued to run the store there after his business partner died the following decade.
The son of an immigrant grocer, he started out with no particular expertise in books but quickly cultivated one, Al Shuman said. The store did not deny its patrons the bodice-rippers and thrillers of paperback literature but specialized in political memoirs and manifestos, congressional directories and almanacs, newspapers and magazines, and other materials of interest to the Capitol Hill dweller.
Trover Shop catered in particular to staffers in the House of Representatives, according to Al Shuman, because the store was on the House side of the Capitol building. Mr. Shuman often hosted book readings for authors with Washington connections.
“Ollie North probably moved a thousand at a signing,” he once told the Houston Chronicle, referring to the Marine Corps lieutenant colonel implicated in the Iran-contra affair of the 1980s. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), he said, was “very, very big” in book sales.
Other speakers included Colin Powell, the Army general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, and former first lady Hillary Clinton, currently the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
Mr. Shuman and later his sons — Al, Steve and Andy Shuman — also ran downtown stationery, book and gift shops until they could no longer contend with the online competition that doomed many independent booksellers.
Their last shop, a card and gift store at 13th and F streets NW, was closed in 2010, months after the Capitol Hill location was shut down.
Joseph Sam Shuman was born in Washington on April 5, 1928. His mother and father, who ran a shoe store before opening a grocery in Washington, were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Mr. Shuman graduated from the old Central High School in 1946, trained in accounting and served in the Army during the Korean War before entering the book business. His sons took over management of the store after their father retired about a decade ago.
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, the former Anne Winer of Rockville; five children, Marsha Mehlman of Charlotte, Al Shuman of Silver Spring, Md., Steve Shuman of Columbia, Md., Andy Shuman of Olney, Md., and Robin Levine of Virginia Beach; a sister, Florence Stein of Silver Spring; and 14 grandchildren.
“I had some wonderful years there,” Mr. Shuman told The Washington Post when he closed his flagship store in 2009. “It was a pleasure to work with the people on Capitol Hill.”
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