Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Second Story Bookstore - Laramie, WY

The Second Story Bookstore - Laramie, WY
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Usually, if I visit two bookstores in one day it may involve complicated travel and/or other various logistical challenges.  Not so in Laramie, WY.  You can visit two wonderful independent bookstores each with their own niche located side by side, yet totally unrelated.  They enjoy a great camaraderie and refer customers to the other bookstore as needed.  For book lovers and bookstore shoppers, the set-up here is ideal.

I'm always fascinated by the history of bookstore spaces and what they were before bookstores.  Second Story Books is aptly named for its location on the 2nd floor of a historic building in downtown Laramie.  KK, the co-owner along with her sister, told me that at one time this 2nd floor space was a dance hall.  The dance hall was surrounded by numerous small rooms which explains the store's history as a hotel and a brothel.  Those side rooms are now all part of the bookstore and they house different genres and items like westerns, cards and gifts, or bargain books.  Second Story offers all new books and numerous sidelines.  As with many other indies, the sidelines are an important part of the revenue.  Greeting cards, journals, t-shirts, and lots of stuff for kids highlight the sidelines you'll find here.

One of my favorite things about Second Story are the numerous displays and the arrangement of the store.  There are lots of table displays throughout, all creatively done.  Every display made it very easy to browse the books.  It was also nice that there were lots of comfortable chairs to sit down in and spend time with a book.  Another nice perk here is that they offer a free book with the purchase of a book.  A great incentive to buy a book!

I had a wonderful time talking to KK and we shared lots of book ideas.  She told me that they don't have many author events but they do have book clubs that meet in the store, always a great way to bring people in.  And like their next door neighbor, Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse, free parking right on the street.

This indie has been around since the 1980s so I'm going to declare it a Laramie institution!  If you're in Laramie and haven't visited this "institution," it's time.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  A Spot Of Bother, Mark Haddon.  A middle-aged couple where the husband is a hypochondriac (he thinks his hip lesion is cancer but it's only eczema), the wife is a philanderer, the adult daughter is a bit of a bitch and can't decide whether or not to get married, and the adult son is gay.  British humor.  I liked it.

CURRENTLY READING:  Memoirs Of An Imaginary Friend, Matthew Dicks.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Shipping News, Annie Proulx.  With my purchase I got to pick out a free book and I picked, Oxygen, Carol Cassella.

A good sign, in more ways than one!

Two great indies side by side, Second Story on the left and Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse on the right.  

The window display is on sidewalk level but you need to go upstairs to get to the bookstore.  

Follow the sign.  Upstairs.  

View looking into the bookstore.  Take out all the books and tables and this was a dance hall.  Look carefully and you'll see doors to the rooms around the dancehall.  

I love this perk.

Lots of great book displays in this store.  Obviously, this picture doesn't do it justice.  Apologies for the blur.  

Some of the sidelines for kids.  

View looking into the children's section.  To the immediate left of me is the entrance into the 2nd floor of the next door bookstore, Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse.  

Look for this display for bargains.  

I really like this staff picks display.  You have to walk all the way around the table to see all the picks.  

A very nice antique cabinet, or luncheonette, to display some sidelines.  

Another great book display.  

A very comfortable chair to try out a book.  

Some of the t-shirts available.  

Looking across the bookstore.  

These rooms encircle the 2nd floor bookstore.  Check them out, they're all different.  

See what the book clubs are reading.  

Lots of great sidelines here.  

A view from the far back corner of the store looking toward the front.  

With KK, the fine co-owner at Second Story Bookstore.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse - Laramie, WY

Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse - Laramie, WY
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Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse is located in one of those quirky college towns, in the historic downtown district of Laramie, WY.  A place that has lots of independent and local businesses that give it that unique flair.  Think Boulder, CO, Durango, CO, or even Iowa City, IA.  Until this visit I'd never been to Laramie and now I'm ready to come back again.

This 2-level indie in an old, historic building is home to a healthy inventory of good, used books.  The store is over-running with so much fiction that they can't keep up with it (do them a favor and go buy a couple!).  Even though all the fiction is not in the data base, they have a good idea of everything available.  Night Heron has a particularly strong offering of books relating to the Wyoming and Colorado region.  Many of these used books they have are donated which is always helpful for the store's business margin.  If you are looking for vintage or collectable editions, you'll want to check these sections.  The store has been around for 13 years and even though things haven't always been easy, they continue to move forward.  One of the best things for the business was when they added the coffeehouse right in the store.  They're able to offer a variety of drinks and food, a very good part of the business here.  The sidelines include greeting cards all done by local artists.

I didn't get to meet Ken K., the co-owner, on this visit but I had a great time talking to Justin and Greg.  Even though this is a used bookstore, they still hold author events with the options of having them on the main level or upstairs.  I absolutely love that there are lots of places to sit in this store on both levels and outside, with many tables as well.

A store doesn't make it 13 years without a devoted group of regulars and that's true for Night Heron.  They also enjoy good business from tourists, especially during the summer.  If you're one of those tourists driving here, you'll be able to park right on the street for free.

Night Heron on the right and Second Story on the left.  A book lover's dream!  
But the best thing here is the location right next door to another independent bookstore!  You can visit two bookstores on the same trip (believe me, this is an advantage for me and a really big deal).  Night Heron is right next door to the unrelated bookstore and business, The Second Story.  They're even connected together on the 2nd floor of both businesses.

Good grief, readers, what are you waiting for?  Saddle up for a trip to Laramie and enjoy two wonderful independent bookstores.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  A Spot Of Bother, Mark Haddon.

Find a book, get a drink and a pastry, then pick a seat inside or outside.  

A great place to sit outside.  

Looking into the bookstore from the front entrance.  Some of you may recognize the celebrity who inadvertently turned toward the camera, a rare move.  Yes, that's my mom.  

There are lots of tables and chairs on both levels.  

Books in boxes waiting to find a temporary home on the shelves before you free them!

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Locally made mugs and jewelry.  

One of the long aisles with all the sections labeled.  

Find this display for just a few of the vintage and collectable books.  

The cafe is on the main level, the counter is in the back.  Place your order and stay for awhile.  

Some of what you'll find upstairs.  

An overview of the 2nd floor.  I love all the great places to sit in this store.  

A portion of the children's section on the 2nd floor.  

When you get to the 2nd floor, look for the passageway into The Second Story, the bookstore right next door.  

A view of the 2nd floor from the front of the building.  

Lots of places to sit on both levels including THIS!  Could it get any better?!

With Justin on the left, one of the fine staffers at Night Heron.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I Know You Like A Book - Peoria Heights, IL

I Know You Like A Book - Peoria Heights, IL
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Regular readers know that I don't always get to meet the owners when I visit the store.  Boy, am I glad I got to meet the owner here at I Think I Like A Book.  Booksellers will often talk about the perfect "pairing."  A book paired with an event; a children's book paired with a toy; a book paired with a restaurant, a dinner, or a wine.  After meeting Mary Beth N., the owner at I Know You Like A Book, I've decided this is the perfect pairing of bookstore owner and bookstore.  If you've visited this indie you know exactly what I'm talking about.

This bookstore and its owner are equally delightful.  Mary Beth has been in business for 10 years and the store is holding its own with maybe a slight tick upwards.  The store offers new and used books along with a small variety of sidelines including literary themed greeting cards and a unique assortment of jigsaw puzzles called Liberty Puzzles, which are selling quite well.  Everything is arranged and organized neatly in a one-level, multiple room space.  Mary Beth was able to expand her business into a space next door over a year ago and I think this was a great move.  It really improved her retail space and also allowed her to introduce a wine bar into the store.  With all the book clubs that meet in the store combined with a wine bar would seem to be a recipe for success at any bookstore.

But the best part of this visit was the engaging owner, Mary Beth.  It is so fun on my visits to meet conversant, knowledgeable, creative, and funny (I'm leaving out lots of other adjectives!) owners and booksellers who bring expertise and personality to the table.  Mary Beth has all of these in spades and if you don't chat with her while browsing this intimate shop, you'll miss out on the full bookstore experience.

I Know You Like A Book is active with author events in the store and off-site when needed.  They also paired an event for an author at a local restaurant, a great idea.  There is a strong local customer base and for out-of-town visitors the parking is free and right on the street, very easy.  And Mary Beth is so good she even pulled off a live broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition right in the store.  

So what are you waiting for?  Discover what all the regular customers already know.  A wonderful bookstore paired with its terrific owner in America's heartland.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  A Spot Of Bother, Mark Haddon.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Moviegoer, Walker Percy.  

One of the front window displays.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  This front room feels and looks as cozy as home!  

A nice display in the front room and a great place to sit in the background and try out a book.   

The front check-out counter and Mary Beth fielding phone calls for book orders.  

The store encourages good hygiene and offers locally made soaps.  

A few of the sidelines available including greeting cards with literary themes.  Mary Beth told me you can now get greeting cards with a short story.  I think this is great.  

This is the back room and a portion of the children's section.  

If you break reading glasses often like I do, you'll be happy to know you can buy a new pair here.  

This is the room recently added to the bookstore.  Bookshelves all the way around and the wine bar in the back right.  The wine bar has been very successful.  

Several book clubs meet in the store and here's an area where they can sit and disagree.  With wine of course!  

Looking from the back of the room toward the front window.  The entrance to the store is in the room to the right of this picture.  

These are selling very well so ask Mary Beth to show you these.  Wooden jigsaw pieces in the shapes of people, cannons, or similarly themed items.  Even if you don't like puzzles, you have to see these.  

Where can you find the travel books?  In the suitcase!

What a bargain!  At 50 cents you could buy this whole tub of books!  

With Mary Beth.  Thanks for a great visit.