Thursday, October 20, 2016

Content Bookstore - Northfield, MN

Content Bookstore, Northfield, MN
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Readers, you're really going to enjoy your visit to this bright and cheery bookstore.  This store has a wonderful content of books, both new and used, all on one-level.  And when you enter and see the nice displays and attractive arrangements, you will instantly become quite content.  I guess this means you will be content to see the content in Content (you can decide how to pronounce the name of the store!).  

When you drive through the downtown district of Northfield, it has a kind of Norman Rockwell-ish feel.  The kind of vibe where you can't imagine this town without a bookstore.  It turns out that this has been true for many years.  Content is only in its 3rd year at this great downtown location but the bookstore has been here many years under different names.  Most recently it was Monkey See, Monkey Read.  This town of approximately 20,000 has supported bookstores for years and now it is behind Content.  It's beneficial to be the home of 2 colleges, Carleton and St. Olaf, which helps with the level of education and community members who engage with an independent bookstore.  In a town of this size, strong local support is critical and that's a big factor here.

One of my favorite events they have here is called Happy Hours.  It's a story time with snacks for the kids and wine for the mothers.  "Honey, I'm taking little darling to Content for story time."  Really Sweetie?  Again?  Do they have it every day of the week?  This would seem to be an indie grand-slam to me.   Happy Hours aside, the store is very active with author events and has good flexibility with space on-site.  They have a modest amount of sidelines which are important, but as Chloe, one of the booksellers told me, the books do really well here.  Several book clubs are involved with the store and you'll also be able to get future discounts if you're part of the customer rewards program.  

I didn't meet Jessica, one of the co-owners, during my visit but I did have a nice email exchange with her and she said Chloe would be able to answer my questions during my visit.  The store was in great hands with Chloe and she was terrific to talk to when I was at the store.  This is one of the reasons I enjoy bookstore visits so much.  I think we could've talked about books and bookstores all day.

I would find it hard to believe if any of the 20,000 inhabitants of Northfield haven't been to this store.  If not, I wouldn't admit it to anyone.  This place is a 5-star gem and you need to see what you're been missing.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Unexpectedly, Milo, Matthew Dicks.  I thoroughly enjoy this author (Memoir Of An Imaginary Friend) and this is the 2nd book of his I've read.  Story of Milo, a 30-something in a failing marriage and Milo has severe OCD which interferes with his daily life.  Compulsions like waking up in the middle of the night and needing to go to a bowling alley and bowl a strike.  Or singing karaoke to a song with German lyrics.  Or letting the air out of his car tires and putting in fresh air.  Very quirky, but you'll never see the end coming by what you read in the beginning.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Residence, Kate Andersen Brower.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Kids Of Appetite, David Arnold.  

Great front window display.  

Another exterior view.  

Looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking directly to the left from the front entrance.  

The first shelf of fiction right inside the store with several staff recommendations.  

A couple of great seats in the front of the store.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Some of the various sidelines located near the front of the store.  

Another great chair to try out a book.  

I'm surprised some of my faithful readers haven't bought me this book!  

A portion of the children's area.  

This is part of the area where in-store events are held.  

There is a connecting doorway in the back of the store that takes you into this yarn shop.  If you have a friend or relative who enjoys knitting, take them here after you buy a book!

View looking from the back of the store toward the front entrance.  

Your kids will love Mudpuppy.  

I encourage everyone to always check out the sections of local authors and interests at any independent bookstore.  

These books are temporarily located on the shelves at Content Bookstore.  They need a home.  With you!

With Chloe on the left, one of the fine booksellers at Content Bookstore.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Cornerstone Used Books - Villa Park, IL

Cornerstone Used Books, Villa Park, IL
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I'm aware that there are some people who approach used bookstores with apprehension and caution.  I understand this trepidation because of some of those stores I've seen (none of which I've written about).  The ones that are disorganized, cluttered, smelly or moldy, and in a general state of disarray.  Let me not only reassure you, but encourage you to spend time at Cornerstone Used Books in Villa Park.  You'll find none of those aforementioned characteristics at this terrific bookstore.  Very neat, well-organized, clean, bright, and best of all is their remarkable inventory of books.  

Even though the name of the store is Cornerstone Used Books, they do offer some new books here including recent releases.  They take in a large number of used books that are in good condition and offer store credit to customers.  I thought their selection of books offered were outstanding.  I especially like that they have a customer incentive program that allows customers to fill a stamp card for an in-store benefit.  It would be great if more indies had customer incentive programs.  In addition to the books there is a large selection of music on vinyl, CDs, DVDs,  movies on VHS, and greeting cards.  

I didn't get to meet co-owner Kathy C. on this visit but I can tell she knows her stuff and has good people around her.  Like other successful indies, she has good community connections with local schools, charities, and social causes like autism awareness.  Nearby middle school students have book reviews for some of the store's books.  Kathy also has occasional store events including a monthly story time in cooperation with the local library.  I also understand that she's scored a huge coup with a visit from a famous celebrity this holiday season.  Santa Claus will be visiting the store and this is a great event to bring children and families into the bookstore.  I think Kathy and her staff are doing a great job, not surprising since she's been doing this for 14 years.

I had a great time at the store meeting Betty, Valerie, and Eric.  Betty told me a lot about the store and its history and was wonderful to take so much time to visit with me.  As with so many other indies, this is always one of my highlights.  It's a cinch visiting this store since it is located in a small shopping plaza with lots of free parking.

So bring in your good used books, get some store credit, and shop the incredible inventory for more books at this wonderful suburban Chicago bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Unexpectedly, Milo, Matthew Dicks.

Another exterior view.  

A very spacious front window display.

You're not going to find a better bargain than this anywhere.  

Before you even enter the store you can browse an extensive CD collection.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the right from the front entrance.  Along this front area you'll find a large selection of music on vinyl.  

Looking to the left after entering the store.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

I would strongly encourage customers to take advantage of this as the holiday season approaches. 

Regular customers should also take advantage of the customer incentive program.  

A few of the movies and DVDs available.  

Vinyl music lovers will thoroughly enjoy visiting this store.  

A nice display of some of the featured authors.  

Have a seat and sample a book.  

You'll find just about any genre here.  This room is in the rear of the store.  

View from the back of the store looking toward the front entrance.  

A portion of the children's section.  

The store offers collectible editions located near the front.  

With Betty on the right, one of the fine booksellers at Cornerstone Used Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Prairie Path Books - Wheaton, IL

Prairie Path Books, Wheaton, IL
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Readers, I really hope when you visit bookstores that you are able to chat with some of the booksellers and owners you meet there.  Of course, you should browse the inventory of books and gifts but the people who work in these places almost always have interesting backgrounds and stories.  As with Sandy, one of the co-owners at Prairie Path Books, she has an interesting background that on the surface didn't foreshadow bookstore ownership.  Sandy went from a career in corporate law, to being a mom, and then finally to a bookstore owner.  Certainly there was more to her journey than this but that's the gist of it.  No background in business or bookstores which is surprisingly similar to many others I've met.  Now two years later, Prairie Path is off and running and business is going great.

Prairie Path is a one-level bookstore connected to a much larger furniture store, Toms-Price Furniture.  The two businesses complement each other nicely.  I'm not sure if any other bookstore I've visited has nicer furnishings in the store and events space than this one.  Very comfortable and attractive.  And you can always take a book and find a comfortable place to sit and try it out in the furniture store portion.  Sandy has a talent for decorating and style and it really shows in the store.

In addition to a great selection of all new books, the store has an excellent assortment of greeting cards.  One of the strengths here though are the many cooking books and a variety of store events.  The events include lots of cooking demos, author events, or book presentations by Jenny (the other co-owner) which often include wine and cheese.  Who wouldn't want to visit a great event like this in a bookstore?!  The events run the gamut from free to pay events and there is something here for all ages and interests.  For someone who had no business background, I think Sandy is knocking it out of the park here.  

I had the best time talking to Sandy and Susan, one of the booksellers.  These two people are exactly what I mean when I suggest that you not only browse the books but chat with the people.  These two couldn't have been nicer and more generous with their time.

I think this bookstore is one of the shining gems in Wheaton.  Since it's relatively new, not everyone has heard about it yet.  Now you have.   Wheatonians (Wheatonites?  Wheaties?!), score some points for a terrific local, independent business that has a most welcoming atmosphere.  Support this wonderful store by paying it a visit.  Take a friend or take your family.  You'll find out what other visitors have discovered.  A great bookstore right under your noses.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Unexpectedly, Milo.  Matthew Dicks.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Whistling Past The Graveyard, Susan Crandall.  The President's Hat, Antoine Laurain.

Lots of free parking and then walk right around the corner and into the front entrance.  

View looking into the store and to the left from the front entrance.  

Great display of new releases right by the entrance.  

Table display of some of the staff picks.  Perceptive readers may recognize the celebrity caught on camera.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Children's area to the right of the front entrance.  

More of the children's section, in a room of it's own to the right of the front entrance.  

Enter the store and turn left.  This is your view of book browsing in that direction.  

Fancy reading glasses in case your sight declines just as you pick up a book.  

Here are some of Sandy's recommendations.  Cooking books and events are big here and that's reflected in her display.  

Display of relevant local interests.  

Enter this room within the store and you'll find an extensive assortment of greeting cards.  

A great area to sit and browse a book even though my picture doesn't do it justice.  

A nice place to sit and look at a book.  

An excellent kitchen area for the many cooking demonstrations.  

An overview of the store looking back toward the front entrance which would be rear right in this picture.  

It's easy to get to the furniture store from the bookstore.  Walk through the interior door and you'll see this view of the furniture store.  

Prairie Path has a great events space with lots of comfortable places to sit.  

Start a bookclub and meet at the store.  

A timely display for the season.  

Find events info and other flyers near the front entrance.  

Diana Gabaldon lovers will find all the Outlander books.  

Display of books that are movies.  

Two things:  1) This is another great seasonal display.  2) There's nothing like great background music in a bookstore and the old fashioned gramophone speaker you see on the right side of the display was playing the Louis Armstrong channel on Pandora.  Perfect!  

With Sandy on the left, one of the fine co-owners at Prairie Path Books.  Thanks for a great visit.