|The Odyssey Bookshop - South Hadley, MA|
Have you ever been to one of those family reunions where you don't know a soul so you spend the day meeting all the relatives? They're glad you finally came and enjoy talking about all the relatives (books!) that you know. This was my day at Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA. I met the matriarch (owner), Joan who was absolutely wonderful and she began introducing me to all the relatives (staff) that are here. Cousin Hannah, niece Julie, nephews Michael and Mitch and who could forget the wonderful friend of the family, Bette, who is a local elementary school librarian. I was the long lost relative who just stumbled in from Iowa. On this day, I wandered into a terrific independent bookstore where I was welcomed enthusiastically and warmly by Joan and an entire staff of kindred spirits whose love of books connected us all. Romeo Grenier would've been oh so proud and there's no doubt that the spirit of the original owner and founder was smiling down on this rare reunion. This great experience and the people placed at Odyssey at this moment in time would've never happened without the leadership of Romeo and his vision for an independent bookstore. Thanks Romeo!
This 2-level store is located in a small Massachusetts town and is also home to Mt. Holyoke College, an all-girls school. The store is actively engaged with the school as well as the community which provide part of the customer base. This part of Massachusetts is a "book" area so many customers also come from several nearby towns. They host at least 150 author events annually and also host numerous book groups. The majority of author events are held right in the store and they have good space to do this. Another group with over 200 participants called the First Editions Club offers members a signed first printing of a newly published book once a month. Something that might someday become a collectable. If you're in the South Hadley area I would highly recommend joining this group. Definitely something that other indies might want to consider. All these groups, clubs, events, and students help bring business into the store and as Joan said, you can't just sit back and wait for people to show up.
Odyssey Books has lots of great sidelines, offers new and used books, and books and supplies for the students at Mt. Holyoke. Downstairs there is a wonderful children's section and most of the adult fiction is here as well. After my time here it's easy to see why this was one of the indies featured in My Bookstore, by Ron Rice.
So now my journey continues. It's great to meet so many wonderful people but now I progress along my journey to meet more kindred souls in more independent bookstores. I hope they're all as nice as the ones I met in The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley. If you live near South Hadley and haven't been here yet, you're making a big mistake. Go to an indie and buy a book. Bonsoir.
JUST FINISHED: The Days Of Abandonment, Elena Ferrante. Husband unexpectedly leaves wife and two kids and the wife spends most of the book falling apart. Decent book, some graphic language.
CURRENTLY READING: End Of Days, James Swanson. Just started, about the JFK assassination. I loved Swanson's Manhunt, about John Wilkes Booth.
RECENTLY PURCHASED: The Hawley Book Of The Dead, Chrysler Szarlan. I had to get this one. The author is also a part-time bookseller at The Odyssey Bookshop!
|This is the entrance from the parking lot.|
|This entrance from the parking lot goes into the lower level of Odyssey. Children's section and adult fiction on this level.|
|A great chair in the children's section. You can pretend to read while your kids check out the books!|
|View to the right after entering the lower level of the store from the parking lot.|
|A new addition to the children's section is this small play area. Looking through the open window you can see my tech adviser, Fran M., seated in the adult fiction area.|
|A larger view of the children's section.|
|Original owner and founder of the store, Romeo Grenier, Joan's father.|
|This is the wall you see on the stairway down to the lower level of the store. The wall is really a nice tribute to Romeo and his wife who started The Odyssey Bookshop.|
|Some of the nice sidelines here.|
|An area where the Mt. Holyoke students can get some of their supplies.|
|Upper level of the store, looking in from the front door.|
|Some great places to sit and try out a book.|
|Lots of staff picks.|
|Yes, they have magazines.|
|Another area of their many sidelines on the upper level.|
|With Joan, the owner.|
|This is the area on the upper level where they hold author events. Like many indies, they're able to roll the tables out of the way to add chairs.|
|L-R, Hannah, a staffer, Joan, the owner, yours truly, and Bette, an elementary librarian. I had a great time at Odyssey with all these people. Thanks for a wonderful visit!|