Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Common Good Books - St. Paul, MN

Common Good Books - St. Paul, MN
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I have some suggestions for you aspiring bookstore owners.  Find a high traffic visible location; try to locate near a college campus in a high population area; find a space where you can host author events; and most of all, find a celebrity to own and front the store.  Someone like, oh I don't know, maybe Garrison Keillor.  Oh wait a minute, he's already taken by Common Good Books in St. Paul, Minnesota, so you have to find someone else!

Yes, Garrison Keillor is the owner of Common Good Books and he does come in the store but when he does, it's usually low-key and more as a customer than an owner.   His name though is one of the attractions that brings customers into the store.  A combination of that, other tourists, strong local support, visible location, and proximity to nearby Macalester College all contribute to this successful indie.  This is the 3rd year in this location on Snelling Ave. and it is a huge upgrade from the former location which was in a lower level and far less visible.  The only drawback you will find is you may have to be creative with your parking.
Another exterior view.  

Make no mistake though, this bookstore could stand quite nicely on its own two feet if Garrison Keillor's name weren't attached.  The store has a great space and an excellent inventory of new books.  This is an example of a bookstore that lends itself very well to lengthy browsing.  The store has a nice children's section and also has a few sidelines, but books are the overwhelming dominant business.  The store is also very active with author events and has a good area to host them.

By now, I'm sure you're all dying to know if I met Garrison Keillor on my visit.  Uhh, no.  You're probably also dying to know if I met Martin S. and David E., manager and assistant manager, respectively, on my visit.  That is a resounding YES!  These guys were fantastic to talk to and I'm always so appreciative when owners and managers take a few minutes to visit with me about their store and the business.

This place is another easy visit, readers.  Go to the Twin Cities for a Vikings game or a Twins game.  Drop those fans off or stop by after the game and then treat yourself and a friend to a bookstore where you can enjoy a wonderful browsing experience.  But be forewarned, you'll do more than browse.  You won't be able to leave here without buying a book or two.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper.  You think your family has problems?  Maybe not after you read this.  4 adult children sit shiva for a week of mourning for their deceased father.  Too much togetherness!  Liked it, didn't love it.

CURRENTLY READING:  Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger.  I'm liking it.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Dear Committee Members, Julie Schumacher.

Look for this "Books" sign on Snelling Ave.  

One of the storefront displays. 
I ALWAYS love it when I see a sign like this at a bookstore!

View just inside the front door looking toward the rear of the store.  Some of you more devoted readers may recognize the rare celebrity sighting of the woman in the blue coat.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Another view looking through the store.  

Don't see your book on the shelves?  Maybe it's way on TOP of the shelves!  Lots of books!

A great place to take a book for a spin.  

When you get tired of sitting in the seats of the previous picture, move to sit here.  

Find an audio book for your long road trip.  

There are lots of quotes around the store.  This one from Garrison Keilor.  

A selection of greeting cards near the check-out counter.  

Magazines and various other sidelines in the front of the store.  

A portion of the local interest section.  

Some books by Garrison Keillor.  

A portion of the children's section.  

View from the rear of the store looking toward the front.  

Need a bargain?  Find it here!  

Whenever Garrison Keillor comes in the store, he'll write a limerick on this board, just behind the check-out counter.  

The manager, Martin, on the left and assistant manager, David, in the center.  Thanks for a great visit!


  1. Another excellent blog, Bob, hitting all the highlights and inspiring everyone who reads it. And again, two bookstore managers who are gracious and always helpful to others. Of course...if they wanted to be really helpful they would trade locations with my store !

  2. Thanks for your nice comments, Sue, and thanks for following. You don't need to trade locations, Hudson needs you!