Sunday, August 20, 2017

Main Street Books - Minot, ND

Main Street Books, Minot, ND
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Main Street Books in Minot is the first bookstore I've visited in North Dakota.  I have a feeling that aside from the people in Minot, this store may be a hidden gem.  In fact, even though this business has been around for 11 years, it seems to be hidden from some of the folks in Minot.  I don't know why it would be.  This is a wonderful bookstore with a great location in downtown Minot and it offers a little bit of something for everyone.  If every bookstore in North Dakota is like this one, I'm going to see some fantastic indies.

This is the store's 3rd location in its 11 year existence and this is by far its largest space.  The one-level store occupies a space that was formerly a paint store.  But you can tell by the store front and interior that this was a classic 5 & 10 department store like an S. S. Kresge.  Main Street Books offers a variety of new and used books and an abundance of sidelines.  I thought the sidelines available for kids were outstanding, including a line of Melissa and Doug items.  They also offer a good variety of educational toys.  Among the other sidelines, crazy socks and greeting cards sell quite well.

The store has some author events, mostly featuring local authors.  They also offer story times for children three times a week.  Kids really enjoy the store's annual Polar Express party which features a visit from Santa and the staff members dressed as elves.  Take note other bookstores, this is one of the store's most successful events.  Kids will absolutely love this place and as Val S., the owner, told me, she's witnessed one child screaming while being physically dragged from the store.  I can relate to that child's feeling! 

Main Street Books enjoys a strong local customer base, an obvious for 11 years of business.  They also enjoy customers from the nearby Air Force base as well as tourists and travelers in the summers. Val mentioned that she can see more people understanding the importance of "buy local."  I always encourage schools to partner with their local bookstores to enhance the strength and bonds in any community.

Hey Minot, you have something that is the ENVY of many other communities who have nothing like Main Street Books.  Take advantage of this jewel with your patronage and support.  Regular customers, take a friend so they can see why you enjoy this store so much.  Kudos to Val for this great local business that complements and uplifts a community with its presence.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir. 

JUST FINISHED:  The Hearts Of Men, Nickolas Butler.  One of the best books I've read this summer.  Boy scout camp in northern Wisconsin in the early 1960s.  Nelson is the camp bugler, very smart, knows scouting, but is picked on and bullied.  Only Jonathan occasionally sticks up for him but these two boys form a bond that lasts a lifetime.  Excellent story spanning the years and a shocking ending.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:   Dead Wake, Erik Larson.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Risen, Ron Rash.   

Another exterior view.  I hope you can tell from the pictures how much this looks like an old 5 & 10 store, both inside and out.  

No argument from me!

View looking into the store from the front entrance, a very spacious main floor.  

Way to go Minot! 

Main Street Books is an award winner.  

View looking to the right just inside the front entrance.  

A fine assortment of new fiction.  

Great table display of new releases near the front of the store.  

Many indies do "blind dates with a book."  Here at Main Street Books, it's "brown bag books."  I love these sales ideas.  

Some great mysteries on this spinner near the front of the store.  

This couch is near the front of the store looking out onto the main street through the large front window.  Yes please!  

A portion of the young adult books and a nice place to sit and try a book.  

There are lots of wonderful sidelines for kids at this store.  

These are only a few of the crazy socks available.  

The socks and greeting cards sell well here.  

Surely, this oven mitt would make a great gift for someone you know.  

A portion of the books of local interest and local authors.  

More people could use this particular brand of chewing gum, only available at independent bookstores.  

If you're on a budget, find this display.  Don't go away empty-handed.  

Another nice area of the store that looks into some of the shelves that have used books.  

You can find more great bargains in this area of the store.  

If you're a Game Of Thrones fan, this store has you covered.  

The nice thing here at Main Street Books is that there's enough couch space that you won't have to fight over it!  

A partial view of the children's section.  

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

Something else your kids will enjoy.  

This is true of EVERY independent bookstore.  Support them!

These are some great tote bags made from recycled plastic and yarn.  That's indie!  

With Val, the fine owner at Main Street Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Book Escape - Baltimore, MD

The Book Escape, Baltimore, MD
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Everyone should be greeted and welcomed the way I was at The Book Escape.  I always take pictures of the store fronts on my visits, sometimes several.  The entire time I'm taking exterior pictures I was distracted by a man just inside the front door who was waving madly at me.  I had sent a note to Andrew S., the owner, but didn't think he would be quite this excited about my visit.  As I entered the store I was greeted as a conquering hero, not by Andrew, but by Coard, a store customer.  Heck, it took me 15 minutes of bookstore talk with Coard before I even got to say hi to Andrew.  What a pleasure it is for me on this journey to not only meet the owners and booksellers, but the customers like Coard who make visits to bookstores such a great part of my endeavor.  Just another experience that you can't get from Amazon.

As Andrew told me, the store has a pretty good location and has been here the entire 18 years of its existence.  It has good visibility on the very busy High St. and is in the Federal Hill area.  It has the Federal Hill businesses on one side and the harbor tourist area on the other.  The store offers mostly used books with some new, all on a one-level space with multiple rooms and nooks.  Don't be fooled by the one-level inventory however (which is extensive), because there is a basement full of books and a 2nd floor full of books all waiting to find their way to the main floor.  Chances are good they might have what you're looking for.  They also offer an assortment of collectable books, DVDs, and CDs.  

The most impressive thing to me though was the fine artwork available here, especially the Russian artwork created by Andrew's wife.  Intricately painted jewelry, uniquely decorative jewelry boxes, and much more.  If you are interested in Russian artwork this store is a must see.  The store does a lot of its business though online sales and I would strongly encourage you to check out some of this artistry in person or online.

Business is going well here and weekends are especially busy.  You'll find several parking options nearby so that helps to make a visit easy.  And you get to meet terrific 2-legged people like Coard and gentle 4-legged hosts like Lavonda, the store dog.  A win-win for everyone who visits.  So in addition to the great tourist sites, make sure you include this indie the next time you visit Baltimore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Hearts Of Men, Nickolas Butler.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Wright Brothers, David McCullough.

Another exterior view.  

If you enjoy historical buildings, check out this 1920 fire dept building, right across the street.  

An award-winning indie.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

Looking straight through the store from the front entrance.  

I don't know how anyone could resist Lavonda!

Unique and artistic jewelry.  

You'll need to refresh yourself to see everything in this bookstore!

A few of the books of local interest or by local authors.  

Find this area to see a few of the collectable and vintage books.  

If you're visiting from out of town, these are always a good buy.  

If you're in Baltimore, you need to know about Cal Ripken.  

There are lots of kids and YA books in the store.  

There are several nooks in the store like this one.  I love nooks like this!

This store has many areas to cover so consulting this map is a good idea.  

Get some music to go with the book you'll buy.  

Nice display of award-winning books.  

A couple of great places to sit and try out a book.   

Keep going.  After you get to the back of the main room, follow the walkway to the left...'ll go through this patio area...

...and then enter another room filled with books.  This is how that room looks after you enter looking toward the left, which is the front of the building.  

Another great area to browse or sit.  

This is the front of that second room.  You have to visit this space, lots of great art work in this area.  

A view of the artwork in the front of the 2nd room, several genres.  

A very ornately framed portrait of Tsar Nicholas the 2nd and it is for sale.  This is a must-see if you stop in the store.  

I love this sign outside the store!

With Andrew on the right holding Lavonda.  Thanks for a great visit.