Don't be alarmed by the display of gigantic plush soldiers perched in lawn chairs outside the entrance to Guidon Books in Scottsdale, at 7109 East Second Street. They're just there to set the scene. Filled with new and out-of-print books on the Civil War, Wild West, Native American history, and more, Guidon Books is a resource for anyone, professional or not, interested in history.
And if you're really a history buff, Guidon has titles on Arizona history and early government, including books about the backgrounds of different cities and volumes of the state's legislative records.
Guidon has a multitude of local loyal customers along with tourists, but every year during spring training, owner Shelly Dudley says the store experiences an influx of baseball fans who also are Civil War and Western history collectors. The store hosts a monthly Civil War discussion group that is open to anyone and welcomes visitors from all over the country and world.
So what exactly is a guidon, you may wonder? It's a banner used by troops in the Civil War and American expansion to distinguish different military units from each other. Aaron and Ruth Cohen, both enthusiasts of books relating to Army officer George Custer and Confederate history, lived in Southern California before moving to Scottsdale to eventually open a bookstore in 1964. Dudley, their daughter and current proprietor of the store, says they would take trips across the country looking for books and browsing other collections. She developed her own love of history along the way and continues to order new titles and buy additional collections for the store.
Many tokens from the original store (a couple of blocks away in Old Town Scottsdale) still are part of the present Guidon Books, including wooden printed signs above the front door and under the shelves of new books, and a photo of the Cohens. Preserving the legacy of the original store is just as important to Guidon Books as embracing the history of the Civil War and Wild West, and they sure do a good job at both.