Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fair Trade Books - Red Wing, MN

Fair Trade Books - Red Wing, MN
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There are LOTS of reasons you're going to want to pay a visit to Fair Trade Books in Red Wing, especially if you're a first time visitor.  This place and their co-owners, Rick and Fay D., offer the BEST incentive to first-time visitors of any indie I've visited or can recall.  You see, at Fair Trade Books you receive a free gift on your first visit.  No, it isn't a bookmark or a pencil, it's a freakin' book!  And no, it isn't just some piece of crap they're trying to get rid of.  If every indie I visited offered this to me as a first-time visitor, well, I would have a lot more books (which frankly, is unimaginable).  As they do at all good bookstores, Rick and Fay talk to you about your interests and what you like to read.  They take time to then think about what book would be best for you, as a gift for your first time in the store. What an absolutely fantastic incentive to visit!  The only catch?  After receiving your free book you are required to exclaim in a voice loud enough for all to hear, "books make a great gift!"  Good luck getting that incentive on your visit to Amazon.

Rick and Fay have been in business for 2+ years and things are going great.  I think this is another wonderful indicator for the re-emergence of independent bookstores.  The store offers new, used, and vintage books in a one-level space.  They are located in a beautiful historic building (1924) in downtown Red Wing that is easily accessible thanks to free on-street parking.  New and used books are shelved together throughout the store.  Customers who bring in books for trade are offered Fair Trade credit tokens in return.  They can use these for more than just books including event tickets, dining, gift-certificates, and more.  This is one of the more creative credit programs I've seen.

The store is very active with all kinds of events.  Besides author events, you can enjoy live music, open mic nights of comedy and poetry, and much more.  Before opening this store, Rick had no background in retail but it's obvious he's a fast learner who has done his due diligence.  Things are only going to get better and better here.

I had a great talk with Rick during my visit and he told me that the magnets and greeting cards are the best selling sidelines but these will continue to evolve over time.  Make no mistake though, the books are the bread and butter here.  The store enjoys visitors from the Twin Cities, one hour away, and also from folks who are visiting the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
As soon as I walked in to Fair Trade I was warmly greeted by Reveler, and this will be one more reason you won't want to leave the store! 
And the topper?  One of the friendliest bookstore dogs you'd ever get to meet, Reveler.  A free book AND a friendly dog greeter.  I don't know how it could be any better!  If you're in the Red Wing area and haven't been to Fair Trade Books yet, you are way behind.  Get with it and enjoy the same great experience I did.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury.  It seems that everyone I've talked to read this back in junior high or high school except me.  I'm not a big sci-fi fan but thought I should read this classic by Ray Bradbury.  Collection of loosely connected short stories about earthlings and their visits to Mars.  I liked it even though I'm not a fan of the genre.  

CURRENLY READING:  Bucky F&%@ing Dent, David Duchovny.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Bohemian Flats, Mary Relindes Ellis.  The Bear Comes Home, Rafi Zabor.  This was the book gifted to me from Rick as a first-time visitor to the store.  Thanks Rick! 

Another exterior view. 

A nice day in Minnesota means sidewalk sales!

A great front window display.

Looking through the bookstore from the front entrance.  That's Rick in the background taking a call from a customer and of course, regular readers recognize the celebrity in the foreground.  Yes, that's my mom. 

View looking to the right from the front entrance. 

A few of the greeting cards available located near the front entrance. 

A nice display of some of the regional selections. 

Recent releases. 

Vinyl is coming back and you can find some here. 

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

Reveler meets the celebrity. 

Some of the vintage books you'll find here. 

I tried to get a picture of the characteristic tin ceiling found in old buildings.  This picture doesn't do it justice. 

This is where Reveler takes his break when he's not greeting customers and selling books. 

Note to self: get an audio book for the long road trips. 

With Rick on the right, one of the fine co-owners at Fair Trade Books.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beaverdale Books - Des Moines, IA

Beaverdale Books - Des Moines, IA
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For new and/or uncertain readers of The Indie Bob Spot, when I'm not traveling the country visiting independent bookstores I'm hanging out in my home state of Iowa.  And for all of my visits, I still had not visited an indie in the state capital and largest city, Des Moines.  Consider this over-sight now corrected by visiting Beaverdale Books, in the Beaverdale neighborhood of Des Moines.  If Des Moines is going to join the ranks of the hip and trendy urban centers of America as it proclaims, it needs a good independent bookstore.  Thanks to Beaverdale Books, consider that problem solved.

This absolutely cute and charming bookstore will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer.  Ten years is a great milestone and the store continues to show positive growth each year.  The one-level store is brightly lit, neat and organized, and has lots of big windows providing natural light.  One of my favorite things are the may literary quotes on the walls around the store.  In addition to the bestsellers and recent releases, there is a nice children's section that offers a weekly story time.  There are also several books clubs that meet in the store, great ways to bring people in.  Beaverdale Books hosts author events right in the store but mostly with authors who have local ties.  They're also able to hold larger events off-site and often partner with the local library.  You'll enjoy their section of books with local interests and authors, those books that you might not find elsewhere.  The store offers a few sidelines but are limited with what they can offer due to space.

So what's the secret here?  The same component that is a plus at all the good indies.  A loyal and devoted local customer base.  Add some tourists and patrons from nearby communities and you have a good business base.  The store location is also a plus, surrounded by other small businesses in a neighborhood shopping area with lots of easy and free parking.

I didn't get to meet Alice M., the owner, but what a great time I had talking to Catherine and Hunter during my visit.  Regular readers know how consistent this is with all of my bookstore visits.  Thank goodness for that!

With the summer season approaching many of you will be planning some travels.  There really is a lot to do and see in Des Moines and now you have one more thing to put on the list.  Even if you're just passing through on I-80 or I-35, stop in for a break and browse the store.  Check out this terrific indie making a name for itself in the state's capital city.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  H Is For Hawk, Helen MacDonald.  Memoir of a woman's attempt to cope with the loss of her father.  She coped by taking up falconry.  This book gets rave reviews from many and has received numerous awards so take my observations with a grain of salt.  The author is a college professor in England and the book reads like the work of an academic to me.  I call this one, B Is For Blah.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury.

Another exterior view and the front entrance.  

Great view looking into the store from the front entrance.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  Notice one of the literary quotes on the wall.  These are all over the store.  

Looking slightly left of the front entrance.  

Greeting cards do well here and these are a few, located directly to the left after entering.  

A few more of the sidelines available near the front of the store.  

I enjoy places to sit and try a book and this is a great place for it.  

A nice display of recent releases.  

Only at Beaverdale Books, of course!

Find some jewelry so you'll look good while you're reading your book.  

A recognized and award-winning Des Moines business.  

A portion of the children's section.  

Another one of the literary quotes.  I love these.  

Bring your pre-schooler here for weekly story time.  

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

With Catherine, one of the fine booksellers at Beaverdale Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bookworks - Albuquerque, NM

Bookworks - Albuquerque, NM
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Booksellers, staffers, personnel, etc., why do you do this to me?  Why do you continually recommend to me other indies to visit, others to add to my journey?  You find out what I'm doing and then proceed to list off other bookstores that I should visit.  These are your competitors, right?  Readers, you need to understand that bookstore people are different and they share a camaraderie with those of the same ilk at other stores.  I probably wouldn't have visited here except Kelsey at Old Firehouse Books in Ft. Collins told me to go to Albuquerque and check it out.  I hear and I obey.  And you know what happened at Bookworks?  Russell, the book buyer, told me to to to Santa Fe to see Collected Works.  And Connie, the head of the children's department told me to check out The Book Case near the UNM campus.  Bookstores are disappearing?  Really?  I've been to a lot of indies but am nowhere close to running out of stores to visit and the list keeps growing thanks to the booksellers who point me to others along my journey.

Bookworks is my 1st indie visited in New Mexico and it is a dandy.  It's a 32 year old veteran, a survivor of the challenges, and continues to move forward the same as all other indies.  It is located in a unique strip-retail area of independent businesses that are all very compatible with each other.  This includes a coffee shop right next door that is very beneficial for both businesses.  The store offers a good assortment of all new books and a variety of sidelines, including greeting cards, journals, and t-shirts to name just a few.  They recently added those unique socks only found in independent bookstores and these are selling very well.  They have frequent author events on and off-site, including an upcoming event with Stephen King and George R. R. Martin in conversation.  Forget about it, the 2300 tickets were sold out long ago.  The store draws a good core of regular customers and all you newbies who will visit after reading this will enjoy finding free, convenient parking in a spacious lot.

I didn't get to meet the owners, Danielle or Wyatt on this visit but the store was in capable hands with Russell and Connie.  They were both wonderful to visit with and I can tell Connie has a real "educator" spirit.  She was preparing for story time in the store and I love the dedication she shows to that and our future readers.

It's my understanding that even though this bookstore has been around for 32 years, some of you have't been here yet?  What the?  Don't you think waiting 32 years is long enough?  Time to fix that.  Time to visit a terrific and legendary bookstore in the great southwest.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Devil In The Blue Dress, Walter Mosley.  Crime noir by an author I wasn't familiar with.  I enjoyed this one even though I couldn't follow some of the threads of the mystery near the end.  Takes place in LA after WWII and the main character is dragged into a scheme he doesn't really want to take part in but he needs the money.  Recommended.  I think many of you will enjoy this.

CURRENTLY READING:  H Is For Hawk, Helen MacDonald.

A great display set up outside the bookstore. 

A few of the sidelines available just inside the front entrance. 

Looking to the right and into the store from the front entrance. 

Fastidious readers may recognize the celebrity rushing into the store.  Yes, that's my mom.  No, I don't know why she's headed to the children's section. 

A few of the magazines available. 

Display of books and their authors appearing at Bookworks. 

A portion of the local authors and interests available. 

A great display of Indie best sellers. 

A few of the sidelines available including funky socks. 

My money shot!  The long bookshelf aisle. 

A great place to sit and try out a book. 

Bring your pre-schooler to Connie's story time. 

A portion of the children's section where Connie does a great job. 

A good assortment of craft and activity books. 

View looking through the store from the rear. 

Breaking Bad fans should definitely come here and check this map out. 

Come to Bookworks on the right day and you'll hear live music. 

Another view looking through the store. 

With Connie on the left and Russell on the right.  Thanks for a great visit.