|McNally Robinson Booksellers, Winnipeg, MB Canada|
Whatever I write in this brief blurb will not come close to conveying to you the totality of this incredible bookstore. This is my first visit to a Canadian bookstore and this one claims to be the largest and best. Without seeing any of the others, I would say yes and yes. If this store were in the US, it would compare favorably with the top tier stores like Tattered Cover in Denver, Powell's in Portland, and Vroman's in Pasadena, just to name a few . After entering here and when I was finally able to close my dropped jaw and bugged out eyes, my only disappointment was not finding the kitchen sink since they have everything else.
Obviously, this is not your typical small-operation neighborhood bookstore. McNally Robinson has been around for about 35 years and in its present location in the Grant Park Mall for about 20 years. The staff consists of over 200 employees at two locations, here and Saskatoon. In addition to an extensive inventory of books you can find all variety of sidelines. Music on vinyl and CDs, ukuleles, unique hats of all kinds, accessories for women including jewelry, anything for kids including clothes for toddlers, locally created items, and much, much more. After you get that ukulele, sign up for an in-store class for lessons. As co-owner Chris H. told me, don't put all your bookstore eggs in one basket, meaning it's important to have a diverse inventory and offer more than just books. There's a spacious restaurant/cafe in the store called Prairie Ink where you can get anything from a coffee and pastry to a light lunch.
I was especially impressed by the number of classes offered and held in the store. Everything from the Russian revolution to any kind of art, foreign languages, movies, wine, music, and books. Heck, I've seen skinnier course offerings at some community colleges (just indulge my exaggeration!). They also offer a self-publishing service for aspiring authors.
Before visiting here, I was resigned to the fact that I probably wouldn't get to meet the owner. Imagine my surprise to not only meet Chris but enjoy a great visit with him. He's been with McNally Robinson for about 20 years so the recent transition in ownership from the McNallys to Chris was fairly seamless. Like many US indies, he's seeing steady business growth which I think is very encouraging. Part of the success here was the McNallys' foresight to include more than just books in the business model.
I wish I could give you a better overview of this spectacular bookstore. But since I can't, you'll have to visit. And if you're in Winnipeg, this is a 5-star leader in the industry that is a required visit, over and over again! Go to an indie and buy a book. Bonsoir.
JUST FINISHED: Civilwarland In Bad Decline, George Saunders. Collection of short stories and a novella. This author has a definite style. Very witty and humorous, at times dark, try a few of these short stories to decide if you want more. Recommended.
CURRENTLY READING: Whistling Past The Graveyard, Susan Crandall.
|Another exterior view. This place is so huge I couldn't even get the whole store front in this picture.|
|One of the exterior window displays.|
|View looking into the store from the front entrance.|
|Looking to the left from the front entrance. Lots of adorable clothes for toddlers in the foreground. The stairway on the right leads upstairs to the children's section.|
|Looking to the right from the front entrance.|
|Classes are offered in the store and their is something for all interests.|
|Toddler clothes. Eventually, there will be ice cream and ketchup on the tie.|
|A great display of some of the new fiction available.|
|Aspiring authors should inquire about publishing their work here.|
|Lots of stuff for babies.|
|This is just a portion of the regional offerings.|
|Hockey fans will definitely find something here.|
|An attractive check-out area and lots of authors pictured above who have appeared here.|
|Locally crafted sidelines.|
|An overview of the music area.|
|A great area to lounge in and try out a book. This space is also where many events are hosted.|
|These must be really good. I got to the store early and they were already out!|
|This is a ukulele tree.|
|The sidelines offered here are endless.|
|A fraction of the book area.|
|If you're in the Winnipeg area, you should sign up for a class.|
|If you're on a budget, there are lots of books to choose from in this area.|
|A nice table display of non-fiction.|
|LOTS of magazines to pick from.|
|Don't miss a chance to visit this wonderful restaurant, right in the store.|
|Go ahead, don't hold back.|
|Looking into the spacious Prairie Ink restaurant. This space is beautiful.|
|View looking down toward the front entrance from the upstairs children's section.|
|A portion of the extensive children's section, upstairs on the 2nd floor.|
|Watch your kids.|
|With Chris H. on the left, the fine co-owner at McNally & Robinson. Thanks for a great visit.|