|The Antiquarium/Bill Farmer Gallery - Brownville, NE|
I don't even know where to start. The bookstore? Tom R., the owner? The town? For crying out loud, this is a town of approximately 150 and not only does it have The Antiquarium, it also has two other bookstores! It has a concert hall with a concert series, it has museums, and it has art galleries. How does a town of 150 support all this? No idea. Along my journey of bookstores though, I meet many fine people and "personalities." Tom R., the co-owner along with his sister, is one of the personalities. What a great visit and tour Tom gave me of this wonderful indie.
Unique is an understatement. Opened here in 2009 and formerly located in Omaha, it is now housed in a former K-12 school building built in 1939. The majority of the store is in the old school gymnasium/auditorium. All the books are located on one level except for the wrap-around balcony located above the gym floor. There are no new books and no sidelines, but there is a good deal of art work housed here as part of the Bill Farmer Gallery.
I met Tom the owner and only employee on this visit. Most of their business is done during the summer months and he was glad to see my mom and myself since he only has about two customers a week this time of year. Tom is literally living his passion. He lives right here in one of the former classrooms. The few classrooms here in this former school are filled with books and if you're looking for vintage or collectable check this place out. Tom says, "there are about 150,000 books here and I defy anyone to count them and prove me wrong." His passion began decades ago when he went to a book sale being conducted by a group of nuns. When he asked them what he should do with all the books that he bought they said maybe he should consider selling them. The seed was planted.
Tom lives here with no TV and no computer (good grief, how will he read The Indie Bob Spot?!). The heat runs on low because of the expense so Tom wears four layers around the building. Computer inventory? No way. Regular hours? Call ahead to make sure you can get in. Cats? Nope, Tom only has one lung, wouldn't work. Café? No, but he might offer you a cup of coffee. Wifi? Ha! Don't make me laugh! Books? Everywhere! And Tom has a multitude of stories to share about his many life experiences and his store. Aspiring writers, THIS MAN IS YOUR STORY!
Brownville, Nebraska may or may not be your destination. But I hope it's on your way because you really have to see this place to believe it. And I just loved Tom's parting words, "We book lovers have to stick together." So true. Go to an indie and buy a book. Bonsoir.
RECENTLY FINISHED: The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith. Author is a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling. The sales never really took off until it was leaked who the true author really was. Adult crime fiction. I found it somewhat confusing at times. Meh.
CURRENTLY READING: Sophia's War, Avi. This is either a YA or middle reader book. So far so good.
|If the weather's nice you can sit here, right outside the entrance.|
|The sign says open, but I'm glad I called ahead to make sure!|
|Looking to the left after entering. You're looking at the stage of the auditorium when this was a school.|
|Looking to the right after entering. The floor was the basketball court.|
|Across the floor. You can see the upper balcony.|
|Here are your bargains!|
|From the back of the room looking toward the stage.|
|There are many chairs in this store to sit down and look at a book.|
|The one hallway in the former school. Classrooms on both sides of the hall are filled with books and Tom lives in one of these former classrooms.|
|Tom shows me one of the former classrooms which now houses the collectable and vintage books.|
|Great picture from the stage looking to the back of the room, across what was once the basketball court.|
|A nice recognition for Tom. Can you find the misspelling?|
|Bill Farmer's voluminous art works can be found here. These drawers hold many of those prints.|
|Great view from the balcony.|
|Looking down on the conference table.|
|Another great picture from the balcony looking toward the stage.|
|Don't want to read a book? Sit down and play some chess. You may need to bring your own partner.|
|This is a bamboo piano. Tom told me the real name, but we'll go with bamboo piano.|
|Astute readers may recognize the famous finger of my mom in the picture. Normally, I can find another staffer or customer to take these pictures but there was no chance of that so my mom was pressed into service. |
|The Antiquarium isn't the only bookstore in Brownville. There are two more including The Lyceum. I'll remind you that the population here is only 150.|