Sunday, July 14, 2019

Books Galore - Festus, MO

Books Galore, Festus, MO.

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When you visit Books Galore in Festus you're going to thoroughly enjoy meeting three rock stars who can do it all.  Each one of them can take in books, sell books, and STILL entertain a wayward traveler who visits independent bookstores.  Husband and wife John and Kendall along with Kendall's mother Barbara are knowledgeable, efficient (thanks to Barbara's organizational talents), conversant, and darn nice people.  Exactly what I see at all the good ones.  But I doubt if this is a surprise to any of the regular customers.  After all, there must be a reason Books Galore has been in business since 1997.  And on the week day morning of my visit, I had a first-hand view of the store's success with lots of customers bringing books in, others buying books, and a wide range of customers from children to senior citizens.  Seems to me 1997 is just the beginning of what should be a long, successful run.

The store has been in several locations over the years but has now been in its current location for about 6 years.  It has a very visible location on busy Main St. and neighbors with city hall, the courthouse, the library, and several small businesses.  Books Galore offers an inventory of over 75,000 books as well as movies, music on CDs, vinyl, cassette, and 8-track, and video games.  They also have vintage and collectable books.  If you can't make it to the store, consider making your purchase online.  This indie also enjoys a partnership with local schools providing books that are on their class lists, a great way to reinforce the importance of buy local, shop local.

The collapse of Waldenbach Books and B. Dalton is what gave birth to Books Galore.  John and Barbara were former employees at those chains and proceeded to put their talents to good use at an independent bookstore.  The Festus area is all the better for it.  This bookstore is a jewel and when you visit it might take you awhile to browse the large one-level space.  As Barbara told me, a customer told her she didn't have enough time to cover the whole store so Barbara told her to come back again and pack a lunch.  Plan on it.  Enjoy visiting this wonderful independent bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  A Nail Through The Heart, Timothy Hallinan.

The storefront window display leaves no doubt as to what is offered here.  

Don't mind if I do.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Habitual readers will undoubtedly recognize the celebrity rushing in front of my camera to browse the books.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  It's a sea of books.  Start swimming.  

View looking to the left of the front entrance.  

Display of current and relevant events.  

Attractive display near the front entrance.  

A portion of some of the DVDs located near the front of the store.  

Two great places to have a seat and try a book.  

This nook of fiction can be found just to the left after entering the store.  

A large section of classics.  

Partial view of the children's area.  

Near the back of the store you'll find a large selection of music on vinyl.  

Hello Judy.
Just a few of the vintage and collectables available.  

If you're a collector of 45s, look for these at a great price near the back of the store.  

Good assortment of music and music instruction.  

Lots of romance offered.   

Speaking of romance, hello Marilyn.  

That's what I call a long wall of books.  

Bring your book club in and have a seat here to discuss your next book.  

Some very fine book art.  

I would suggest the same at all indies.  

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

Just a few of the vintage editions offered.  

Find some video games at great prices.  

From L-R:  John, yours truly, Kendall, and Barbara.  The fine folks you'll meet at Books Galore.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Book Shop - Nashville, TN

The Book Shop, Nashville, TN
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As many of you know, the beauty of independent bookstores is that they are all different, no two alike.  This indie is a simply stated yet beautiful small space.  What struck me here was that simple beauty attractively displayed with its lighting, their fixtures, and the organization.  The Book Shop is small in stature but big in charm and customer appeal.  The day of my visit was a week day morning shortly after opening and the place was crowded and busy.  As Joelle H., the owner told me, things are going very well and now I can see why.

This little charmer is located in a busy retail and neighborhood area of East Nashville.  The business has been going for three years and 1 1/2 years now in its second location.  Joelle's goal in moving here was to make the store more of a neighborhood bookstore and from what I can see she's accomplished that goal.  Surprisingly, despite the large apartment complex across the street the store doesn't see many customers from there.  But Joelle did tell me that much of the customer base comes from nearby.  The store sits adjacent to an equally cute coffeeshop allowing for a great partnership.  You can reach either business from separate outside doors or an inside passage.  I love Joelle's philosophy for the curation of her inventory.  The store offers all new books, many of which may not be available at chain bookstores or discount department stores.  Like The Book Shop, many indies offer a wonderful breadth of inventory which contributes to the positive experience that cannot be duplicated online.  Well done, Joelle.

The bookstore's strategy for events differs slightly from some indies.  Events here are more customer based rather than author based.  In other words, getting people into the store.  They offer a children's story time, and adult story time, book clubs, and lit trivia nights.  One of my favorite things here is the silent book club.  This is gaining traction in parts of the country and the premise is very simple.   You go to the bookstore or coffee shop and read your book silently in the company of others for an hour or two.  A meeting of the minds or at the least, kindred spirits.

There are few sidelines here and Joelle told me that things are going well with mostly just the books.  A pleasant store, with an uber pleasant owner, and a lot of terrific books that you never knew were out there.  Come on over apartment people, you're going to love this place.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  An American Marriage, Tayari Jones.  Roy and Celestial are a young African-American couple, married for just a year and a half.  Things were going ok until Roy was wrongly convicted and incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit.  The marriage drifts apart and Celestial becomes attracted to one of their common friends, Andre.  This book is relevant in the current climate of wrongly incarcerated African-Americans and the toll it takes on families and relatives.  I enjoyed this one.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai.  Who Pooped? A Matching and Memory Game, ages 3+.  

Partial view of the apartment complex right across the street from the bookstore.  Hey apartment people, look out your windows across the street.  You're missing out on a great bookstore right under your noses.  

Front display window.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

I love the overhead lighting in the store but cannot explain why the lights appear yellow in this picture but white in the previous one.  

Looking to the right just after entering and a relevant display for Pride month.  

A few of the children's books available.  

A nice place to sit and sample a book.  

Neatly arranged table display.  

I love the light fixtures along the shelves.  

Don't "show room."  Taking pictures of books to buy online later.  You could place this message in every single independent bookstore.  

Go to the back of the store and take a right will place you at this hallway into the coffeeshop.  

View looking into the coffee shop.  
I love this!  On the floor of the hallway between the coffeeshop and the bookstore.  

Assortment of sidelines at the checkout counter.  

Overview of the store looking from the back toward the front entrance.  Discerning readers may recognize the celebrity seated in the background sampling a book.  Yes, that's my mom.  

That Bookshop tote bag will come in handy for all the books you'll be getting.  

Looking toward the front entrance along the wall of books.  

Coffee addicts will appreciate these.  

With Joelle, the fine owner at The Book Shop.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Second Read Books - Decatur, AL

Second Read Books, Decatur, AL
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When I entered this bookstore, it was bathed in a buzz.  A buzz and an energy of early elementary kids and their mothers.  I thought, good heavens this place is packed how the heck will I ever browse for books?  The store had a definite energy and it didn't take me long to figure out it started at the top with co-owner Melinda who clearly has a passion, energy, and creative talent that pairs nicely with bookstore ownership.  This Melinda, she's a wise one.  What were all these kids doing here, I wondered?  A bookstore event of cookie decorating (Hey indie owners, how about a cookie decorating class for bookstore travelers?  I digress.).  What kid wouldn't be excited about this?  Melinda had spaces for 10, but twenty were there.  And of course many parents.  If these people didn't know about the bookstore before, they sure do now.  And do you know what happened after the cookie decorating event finished?  There was another one for older kids.  This is another super example of how bookstore owners get people into their store.  Nice job, Melinda and David.

Second Read Books is one year and four months old and Melinda confirmed to me that things are going very well.  It has a very visible location in downtown Decatur surrounded by many other businesses.  The store offers all used books along with some vintage editions but if you want a new book she can get it for you.  They are particular here about taking only books in good condition and will offer store credit or cash in return.  The store is fortunate that many customers will simply donate their books.  Everything is well-organized and very neat.  I especially liked all the creative decor seen throughout the store crafted by Melinda.  There are a few sidelines here including candles and t-shirts but my favorite were the baby blankets inscribed with a children's story.  The store is already host to book clubs and even though it is a used book store, is also host to author events.

Like many other indies, this new store has recently acquired a bookstore cat, Callie, a rescue.  Callie, along with Melinda and Nicole, a staffer, make this a must visit for locals and tourists alike.  This store is really taking off and if you haven't seen it yet, you need to come here and find out why.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  An American Marriage, Tayari Jones.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Thunderstruck, Erik Larson.  The Gods Of Gotham, Lyndsay Faye.  


I think this sentiment can probably be echoed by many in Decatur.  

The bargain bin before you go in.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

My first clue that there may be a bookstore cat here.  

Callie is new on the staff at Second Read.  Obviously, she's had a tough training session to learn the ropes of a bookstore cat. 

A nice table display and nice example of some creative book art.  

I thought this book art on the wall was outstanding.  My picture doesn't do it justice.  Nice work, Melinda.  

Creative display and creative decor.  

A long wall of books.  Behind the red door in the back of the store is an events space.  That's where the cookie decorating was happening.  

If you get a book from Second Read, there is no due date to return it!

Find these shelves for a few of the new arrivals.  

You can find some great quotes posted throughout the store.  

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

A few of the sidelines available.  

I don't think I've seen this yet.  A baby blanket inscribed with a children's story.  I love it.  

If you're a regular, make sure you're in the customer incentive program.  

With Melinda (and Callie), the fine co-owner at Second Read Books.  Thanks for a great visit.