Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Book Corner - Niagara Falls, NY

The Book Corner - Niagara Falls, NY
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The bookstores I've visited can be classified into three VERY broad categories:  1) Mainly books, 2) Books and sidelines, and 3) Books and "what the hell is all the other stuff?"  The Book Corner would fall into the 3rd category, in a truly wonderful and definitely unique way.  The owner, Jeff M., fits quite nicely here and told me so much during my visit that I'll never be able to recall it all.  When I walked in he told me I was entering a museum and that I'd never been in a bookstore like this one.  He was right.  He also told me I'd be overwhelmed once I got up to the 2nd floor.  He was right again except the "overwhelmed" part started way before that with my first steps inside the front door.

At one point, The Book Corner's location here on Main St. in Niagara Falls was a vibrant retail and business area but not so much now.  The area has experienced an economic decline like many other urban centers but The Book Corner remains.  It will celebrate its 88th birthday on June 1, 2015 and is in only its 3rd ownership.  The original owner was a lady who started the business as a lending store where you could borrow a book for 5 cents a week.  She sold the business to Pete M., who then passed it to the current owner and his son, Jeff M.  This has been Jeff's life from day one and he knows the business.  He grew up here so he had the advantage of learning the business from his dad.  The staff here is Jeff and his wife Tereza, and 2 bookstore cats, of course.  I met all three of the people on my visit and they were fantastic to talk to and told me so much about the store and its history.

The store has three levels.  A basement level, main level, and upstairs.  Every level is absolutely packed with books and the volume is incredible.  They carry both new and used books and are fortunate to receive donated books for their used inventory.  Children's books and books of local interest are particularly strong here.  There is also an extensive assortment of vinyl, which Jeff thinks is continuing to make a comeback.  They have a wonderful, spacious area upstairs to host author events, but limit the events to local authors of history, because as Jeff said, "the store is in the hood and they won't get many others to visit."  They also host open mic nights upstairs for musicians and have a great area for that as well.  And of course, there are books everywhere.

This place is certainly a bookstore and a museum.  They enjoy seeing visitors from all over the country at this store.  But make sure you allow a little extra time when you visit because you'll need it.  You'll enjoy meeting Jeff and Tereza and you'll enjoy being in a state of overload with everything to see in this fine independent bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Jesus Cow, Michael Perry.  Humorous story of a farmer in small town Wisconsin whose cow gives birth to a calf with a likeness of Jesus Christ on his flank.  Let the chaos begin!  A great depiction of everything that happens in a small, midwestern town and in the end a challenge to the farmer's faith.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and it is a fairly quick read.

CURRENTLY READING:  Escape From Paris, Carolyn Hart.  Fiction, WWII, Paris.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Redbreast, Jo Nesbø.

Another exterior view.  

A unique front window display.  

Looking straight through the store from the front door.  Notice the anxious celebrity customer on the lower right.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

One of the two cats you can visit in the store.  

A great place to sit and pet a cat or try out a book.  

View from the back of the store on the main level looking toward the front of the store.  

How many bookstores have an organ?  You'll find one here!  

A portion of the great selection of local interest books.  

Teachers, consider taking your students on a field trip to an independent bookstore.  

The Loft is the upstairs area.  

This is the area upstairs where author events are held, a great space.   

Same space and room, looking from the speaker's perspective.  

Pick an instrument in this room and join in the music on open mic night, also located upstairs.    What a great idea.  

Get in a game of foosball while you're waiting for the author event to start.  

Another great place to sit and try out a book.  

Another view of the room where you can participate in an open mic night.  Or you can listen to the music and browse books, all at the same time.  

Looking into the first room as I enter the basement level.  

A portion of the vinyl available here, downstairs.  

Or, maybe a tape cassette.  

This picture doesn't do justice to the amount of books you'll find on the lower level.  

This room is also located downstairs.  You'll also find children's on the main level.  

I love this picture.  This is the owner, Jeff, showing me how to do a balance board.  None of the owners at the indies I've visited have shown me this skill yet!  Naturally, my mom was rushing forward to give this a try.  

L-R, Yours truly, Ruby (who was on somebody's lawn back in the day),  Jeff, and Tereza.  Thanks for a great visit.  

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