Monday, December 28, 2015

Lawn Gnome Publishing - Phoenix, AZ

Lawn Gnome Publishing - Phoenix, AZ
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I've often said that there is no cookie-cutter model for an independent bookstore.  All shapes, sizes, colors, and genres are welcome to the species.  If you come to Lawn Gnome Publishing expecting a shiny, sparking, mega-indie or a chain store like a Barnes & Noble, you will be sadly disappointed.  If you come to visit a hip, quirky, unique, fascinating and fiercely independent bookstore, you'll have a great time browsing their collection of used books.

This indie is located in a neighborhood surrounded by those quirky, artsy businesses, all independent.  Everything from bikes to art to coffee and now for the last three years, books.  If you like visiting eclectic neighborhoods, you'll love this one.  Featuring all used books and a few sidelines, the business is housed in a building that was formerly an art gallery and way back in the day was a family home purchased from a Sears catalog.  When Lawn Gnome began, the founder and owner, Aaron J., had a staff of volunteers to help with the store.  Thanks to its growth over the last three years, he's now able to have a paid staff of about 8, a great sign for this indie.  In its short history, they've already won an award for best used bookstore in Phoenix.

Besides books, the store has a few sidelines like backpacks, jewelry, and fanny packs, but this place is mostly books.  They obtain books from a variety of sources including customers who can earn store credit.  Some books are donated and they're also able to find books at local thrift stores.  Everything is on one level divided by small but open rooms.  There is a back yard where they are able to host events like open mic nights and slam poetry contests (this is poetry delivered with a pulse or cadence.  Maybe a throwback to the beatnik era?).  These events are a good source of revenue for the store.  They also feature works by many local authors, including zines, magazines published by Lawn Gnome promoting social causes.

I didn't get to meet Aaron J. on this visit but had a great time talking to one of his staffers, Raphael A.  I was curious about their customer base and he told me it's a little bit of everything; locals, tourists, and even snow birds (that last one surprised me).  Parking is easy to find, free and right on the street.

If you extract this neighborhood and plop it down in Brooklyn, NY, or northern California, you'd never know the difference.  This place is that hip.  But it doesn't matter where you fall on the scale.  If you want to have an enjoyable experience at one of the country's unique bookstores, check this place out, you'll love it.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Destiny Of The Republic, Candice Millard.  Non-fiction that reads like a novel.  Story of President James Garfield, his short time in office before being assassinated but surviving for over two months.  The medical mistakes made in attempting to save his life and how Alexander Graham Bell tried to help.  For history buffs, this is a must read.  I loved it.  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Neither Wolf Nor Dog, Kent Nerburn.

View looking through the store from the front entrance.  

Look around you, the lawn gnomes will be watching.  

A few indies I've visited wrap books up in plain brown paper and offer them at a special price.  The catch?  You don't know for sure what you're getting until you open it.  

Unique jewelry.  

Find this area of the store and find a magazine supporting a social cause.

Yes, there is a bathroom.  

Come here to find a book and attend an event.  

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

This is the back yard area and event space.  The stage to the right, audience seating to the left.  If you want to find out what slam poetry is, come here.  You can also test your talents at an open mic night.  

Here's the view from the stage.  Unique!

You'll also find a kids section here.  

Staff picks.  

A few of the backpacks available.  

Already an award winning indie.  

With Raphael on the left, one of the fine staffers.  Thanks for a great visit.  

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