Sunday, May 21, 2017

Gramercy Books - Bexley, OH

Gramercy Books, Bexley, OH
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Readers, I wish my abilities of expression were better so I could give you a true picture of how wonderful these many bookstores are.  I feel especially deficient when trying to accurately portray Gramercy Books in Bexley, OH.  No two bookstores are alike and beauty comes in all shapes, but there's no way around describing this indie as anything other than a very beautiful store.  It's obvious that a great deal of thought went into the planning of their space.  The design, the paint work and wall quotes, display windows, a four-sided message board near the check-out counter, and so much more.  Heck, even the bathrooms were beautiful and fragrant (speaking only for the men's; did not get a visual or tour of the women's).  But like all my other visits, the beauty of the store is only exceeded by the niceness of the wonderful people you'll meet at Gramercy Books who are the ones that give the store its true sparkle.

Gramercy Books is a medium-sized, one-level bookstore that is extremely well arranged.  They offer all new books and a diversity of sidelines.  Despite its medium size, I thought the store really offered lots of inventory without feeling crowded.  It's very easy to browse here and is connected to Kittie's, a small cafe, on the inside.  These are two separate businesses that compliment each other very well.  The store is already hosting many events, both on-site and off.  They have a great partnership with the local library right across the street and are able to use their auditorium for large events, a great arrangement for both.  

The people you meet at Gramercy Books are the best.  Linda K., the owner, Debbie B., the store's  manager, and Nikki, one of the booksellers are all wonderful.  People like these make visiting bookstores a blast and one of the reasons I encourage everyone to explore this fulfilling experience instead of an impersonal click and submit on the internet.

Regular readers, have you noticed anything over the last year or so of my visits?  Gramercy is part of a trend that I'm seeing just about everywhere.  Indies are returning, they're growing, and they're sustaining.  This store is now part of that movement and if you're in the Columbus, OH area visit this place and find out why.  Discover the rewarding experience and be part of something positive.  Shop local, buy local, Bexley.  Congratulations Linda.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Poet Of Tolstoy Park, Sonny Brewer.  Based on the true story of an Idaho man in the 1920s who moved to Fairhope, AL because he was diagnosed with a terminal condition and not expected to live long.   He built his own little house in the woods, living for years, and dispensing life philosophy.     

CURRENTLY READING:  The Bookseller, Mark Pryor.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  This Boy's Life, Tobias Wolff.

I haven't visited too many indies that have their own designated parking signs but I love it when I see them.  Gramercy is located on a busy street but you can find free parking behind the store.  Look for these signs.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

You'll see a relevant and timely table display the minute you walk in.  

A variety of nicely displayed magazines.  On the right you'll see some Gramercy swag.  
View looking into Kittie's from the bookstore.  They also have their own exterior entrance.  

One side of the 4-sided message board.  

A nice display of the classics.

There is a great selection of books in the music section located near the front of the store.   

The display of Pulitzer Prize winners.

Debbie is the store manager and she recommended A Prayer For Owen Meany to me at a previous bookstore.  It was great! Trust Debbie!

A great seating area   

This store has a good variety of sidelines.

Another one of the great sidelines here.  

A few of the greeting cards available.

They even have a cool clock here.     

A good inventory of teen and YA fiction.  

Looking into the children's section.

Another view of the children's section.

A beautiful display in the children's section.   

These really work!

If you see these in an independent bookstore, check them out   Very cool!

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

The best.  

The rock stars at Gramercy Books.  L-R, Debbie, yours truly, Linda, and Nikki.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Beyond Barcodes Bookstore - Kokomo, IN

Beyond Barcodes Bookstore, Kokomo, IN
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Regular readers of The Indie Bob Spot know that I firmly believe that towns of just about any size should have an independent bookstore.  I also enjoy discovering that many of these bookstores have a component of community outreach and involvement.  But very few walk the walk like Beyond Barcodes Bookstore and its wonderful owner DeAndra B.  Not only should every community have an independent bookstore, but they should all have one like Beyond Barcodes and they should all have a DeAndra B.  As the name of this store indicates, it goes way beyond the barcodes on a book.  And DeAndra is the perfect person to deliver this message, this store, and the gathering space that is so needed to provide an understanding among all.

You don't have to be a reader to enjoy a visit to this store.  Beyond Barcodes hosts multiple events of all kinds and they have lots of space to pull it off.  You can take classes in Spanish, French, Portuguese, sign-language, and ESL, just to name a few.  Looking for an art class?  Find one here.  And these are available for all ages.  Idlewild Books in NYC is similar to this with their offerings, but you don't have to go there to take advantages of these opportunities in Kokomo.  It is also a great community gathering space, available to all people including town hall meetings and professors with classes from Indiana University - Kokomo.  If you're in Kokomo and not taking advantage of all there is at this bookstore, you're really missing out.  This store and DeAndra are the perfect example of community development, education, and outreach.  

This multi-cultural bookstore has been here for just over a year, a mere baby.  The store is a great source of multi-cultural books and DeAndra will do a good job of hand-selling.  You'll also find a good variety of local artwork in different mediums, jewelry, potions and creams, and various ethnic items.  In the back of the store is the Bind Cafe where you can enjoy something light to eat and a coffee.  For the full experience at Beyond Barcodes, I would recommend the Airbnb space available above the store.

Of all the opportunities available here, the best one of all is meeting DeAndra.  This owner has an energy, a presence, and best of all a friendliness that is undeniable and will easily sustain this store in the years ahead.  Expect to hear big things about this store and its owner.  Visit Beyond Barcodes and enjoy having much more than a typical bookstore experience.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Poet Of Tolstoy Park, Sonny Brewer.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Thelonious Rising, Judith Richards.

A bookstore and a language learning center.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Habitual readers may recognize the celebrity sprinting into the store.  Yes, that's my mom.    

After entering the store, you'll follow around to the right and this is then the view looking front to back. 

Table display of multi-cultural books of interest.  

Need some headache potion or stress relief to go with your book?  Find this display.  

Some great children's recommendations.  

Find this display and you'll find something to be inspired.  

A nice assortment of women's accessories and bags.  

Find this display and read about people.  

Never too early to teach this lesson.  

Required reading to understand others.  

Beautiful hand-made items.  

A great place to sit and have a coffee or talk about a few books.  

Go to this store and pick out a book.  You'll learn something.  

These look like some of the most relaxing recliners I've seen in any bookstore.  Basically, one rung below a bed!   Wake me when you get ready to close the store! 

A great gathering space toward the back of the store.  

Set the mood and spin some vinyl.  

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

...and much more!

Two eager customers lining up for coffee at the Bind Cafe, located in the rear of the store.  

I haven't visited many bookstores where this is an option.  

There are lots of original art works around the store, be sure to check them out.  

With DeAndra, the fine owner at Beyond Barcodes.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Main Street Books - Lafayette, IN

Main Street Books, Lafayette, IN
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One of the things I enjoy about my bookstore visits is seeing the space that they're housed in.  Main Street Books in Lafayette, IN is in a building that was built in 1837.  Beautiful original brick walls, and a mostly original iconic tin ceiling that has now been white-washed to give it a little sparkle and lighten the store.  And if these walls could talk they would tell you that the space was previously a newsstand with papers, magazines, and some books.  But now, its one of the new generation of bookstores, only two years old, and merging into the independent bookstore family.   I continue to see and hear good news everywhere I visit.  Indies are not closing, they're returning, they're opening, and they're finding business in a competitive sector.  Here in Lafayette, its thanks to people like Tamsin and Ted M.  

Tamsin and Ted moved to Lafayette from Alaska a few years ago and Tamsin asked a sci-fi bookstore that was going out of business if she could buy their inventory, kind of on a whim.  Then she asked husband Ted if she could open a new bookstore.  He said, "No."  And with that, Main Street Books was born!

This attractive and comfortable store is a one-level with two long adjacent rooms.  They carry an assortment of new and used books and you'll find the used books shelved right along with the new ones.  Their sci-fi and fantasy genres are particularly strong.  They have a few sidelines here including greeting cards and literary teas (Charles Dickens Black Tea Blend, e.g.) but that's one of the things that is still evolving for the store  The same can be said for author events and signings as they try to find the best way to generate interest in these events  They have a great downtown location which is advantageous when there are complimentary events in this area.  The nearby farmer's market and an annual music festival are great for helping the store's visibility.

I had an absolutely great talk with Tamsin who since opening has discovered the cooperativeness and camaraderie offered by other bookstore owners and booksellers.  Even though they are at different bookstores, they are all truly on the same team.  Sadly, there are people in the community unaware of the existence of an independent bookstore here.  If you're a regular, help them out and spread the word.  Return to the store with a friend.  Newbies, go back a second time and bring a friend.  Step into a beautiful bookstore and enjoy the feeling in downtown Lafayette.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Poet Of Tolstoy Park, Sonny Brewer.  

Don't mind if I do!

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  There is a room parallel to this on the right.  Tamsin is on the phone taking a book order.  

Looking directly to the right from the front entrance.  Walk that way then take a left and you'll be in that second room.  

Enjoy a cup of coffee while you browse.  

I thought this was a very unique metal sculpture near the front of the store.  Apologies for the lighting.  

Two comfy chairs to sample a book.  Perceptive readers may recognize the celebrity browsing the store.  Yes, that's my mom.  

If you don't want a coffee, consider a Coke while browsing.  

A portion of the children's section.  

A little picture of a little chair for a little reader.  

A nice row of shelves offering book series'.  

In addition to new books, the store does offer a few used books.  

If you're a Trekkie and you need help with your Klingon, come here and find this book.  

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

Display of recently popular books.   

A multi-purpose tote bag.  

A great look at some of the original brick work and tin ceiling.  A beautiful store.  

Not sure I've seen these in any of my previously visited bookstores.  Literary teas.  

There are a few here.  Ask to see them.  

With Tamsin on the left, one of the fine co-owners at Main Street Books.  Thanks for a great visit.