Thursday, June 2, 2016

Red Balloon Bookshop - St. Paul, MN

Red Balloon Bookshop - St. Paul, MN
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The more times I visit the Minneapolis - St. Paul area the more I appreciate the wealth of bookstores there.  The Red Balloon has been on my list for quite some time and I'm glad to say that I finally made it.  The only way this visit would've been any better is if I could've gone into the store as a 7-year old boy.  Parents and children who have been here know exactly what I mean.

Red Balloon is a legendary, long-running independent bookstore that is labeled a children's bookstore.  I can't imagine any kid not enjoying a visit to this bookstore.  Lots of books, toys, crafts, and games all geared for kids of all ages.  It's located on the popular Grand Ave shopping district where you'll also find many unique shops and restaurants.  The store has been in its current location for 20+ years and in business a total of 32.  You don't establish a track record like this without doing a lot of things right.

Red Balloon has a long-standing story time that meets every Wednesday and Thursday.  It's so well established that there are adult mothers who attended story time as children and are now bringing their own kids.  There is also a monthly story time in Spanish.  Included among the children's books you'll find books in foreign languages, like French, e.g.  Even though the store is focused primarily on children customers, it hasn't forgotten the adults and offers a variety of adult books, including recent releases.  This indie is very active with author events which are held in the store or off-site depending on the anticipated crowd.  They're also host to several book clubs for almost all ages from middle readers through adults.  The store is very tight with many local schools and does events with them including bringing authors right to the schools and book fairs.  This is a great way to develop community ties for any bookstore.

But as with almost all of my visits, the people I met here were just the best.  I didn't get to meet Holly W., the owner, or Joan T., the store manager, but what a great time I had talking to Angela, Lily, Stacy, and Barb.  Fun, knowledgeable people that will really make for an enjoyable and fun visit to this bookstore.  Visit this store and bring your kids of any age.  They won't want to leave and neither will you.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Bucky F&%@ing Dent, David Duchovny.  Story of a dying father and his adult son during the 1978 baseball season and the tight race between the Yankees and the Red Sox.  The father's health always improves when the Red Sox win so the son and others plot a fake end to the season with the Red Sox winning.  I loved this book and you don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it.  However, Yankee fans and Red Sox fans will want to relive this season (well, that might depend on your team and level of fanaticism!)  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Painter, Peter Heller.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Bear And The Piano, David Litchfield.

Dr. Suess quote in chalk outside the store.  The tone is set!

More than just books for kids.  

A very cool bear sculpture carved into the tree outside the store.  Your mood has been heightened!  

AHH!  And now you're in!  View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

While the kids are checking out the store, Mom and Dad can browse here near the front entrance.  

Some timely books for graduates.  

A nice display for the kids to the left of the front entrance.  

If you have a child that is obsessed with planes, trains, cars, boats, and the such, this is the section for that.  But don't worry, there's more than just this!  

A nice view of the back part of the main level.  This is also the events space for in-store events.  

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

Award-winning books.  

Find this section for children's books in a foreign language.  

If you're getting the classic, Goodnight Moon, you might as well get your child the shirt to go with it!  

Display of staff favorites located downstairs.  

Entering the downstairs room.  Lots of YA here.  

A new and original poster created every 5 years in recognition of the Red Balloon Bookshop.  

A nice place to sit and try out a book.  A red chair in The Red Balloon.  

There are lots of sidelines for kids all over the store.  

A long wall of books on the main level.  

A portion of the arts and crafts available.  

Three of the rock stars at Red Balloon and they are every bit as fun as they look.  Angela, in the green; Stacy in front; Lily in back with the bear.  Thanks for a great visit.

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