Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Plains Trading Co. Books - Valentine, NE

The Plains Trading Co. Books, Valentine, NE
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This indie is another example of just when I think I've seen it all, I find another remarkable store that has survived incredible odds.  The Plains Trading Co Books in Valentine is in the northwestern part of Nebraska, about nine miles south of the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.  The population in Valentine is approximately 2800.  This town is remote and there is little of consequence within a couple of hours.  Against this backdrop, a bookstore has survived and endured for 25 years.  What a store this is and what a grand record of success.  Given this history, you would think this bookstore has limitations.  Think again.  This indie can do just about anything any of the others can.

This is another store that I was tipped off about when visiting elsewhere.  Before Chad at Main Street Books in Norfolk, NE opened his store, he paid a visit to Valentine and Plains Trading to get some ideas and advice.  When I met Chad at Main Street Books, he told me I should go to Valentine, so here I am.  As you might expect with its location, the store has a strong section of local, regional, Nebraska-related, and Native Amercian books and sidelines.  But they also have a good assortment of new general fiction and non-fiction.  I thought their other strength was their variety of children's books, toys, games, and educational items.  If you can't make it to the store, you can always visit their website and place an order online.  And if they don't have the book you want in the store, go ahead and order it from them.

The sidelines they have here are numerous and definitely critical to the store's success.  I especially like some of the Native American art work available and for sale.  You can also find wine, gourmet coffee, Native American flutes, greeting cards created by local artists (like Duane G., the owner), and so much more.  They also have enjoyed a 25-year relationship with some of the South Dakota schools as well as the school and library in Valentine, another important part of the business.

I didn't get to meet Duane on this day but I did meet his wife Darlene and Teena, one of the staffers.  As you would expect, after 25 years Darlene really knows her stuff and she's part of the reason that Plains Trading marches on in the bookstore business.  New indie owners can take hope in the success of a bookstore like this one.  This place is right on Highway 20 that cuts through the country.  On your next cross-country tour, hit this one along the way.  It will be a while before you get to another.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Peace Like A River, Leif Enger.  This was a big book award winner some years back but I think it's overrated.  Too literary for me but I know that will appeal to many readers.  Story of the 16-year old boy who kills two bullies that have harassed his family.  He escapes confinement becoming a fugitive and the remaining story is of the father, brother, and sister who try to find him.  Liked it, didn't love it.

CURRENTLY READING:  Grief Cottage, Gail Godwin.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Jesse James wine.

Another exterior picture.  Notice the red hearts and then remember what the name of this town is.  

A great place to sit outside the store on a nice day.  

Very attractive display window.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left inside the front entrance.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  

Great display near the front entrance.  

Another nice display of popular releases.  

Some books for the kids.  

A portion of the children's area.  

Lots of sidelines here are created by local artists.  Attentive readers may recognize the celebrity on the right.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Have a seat and sample a book.  

Native American artwork is available here and can be found throughout the store.  

A long wall of books and artwork.  
Need a quilt book?  Find them here.  

A variety of Native American flutes.  I loved seeing these.  

Coffee and wine.  Along with the books, what else would you need?!

Just to make sure, go ahead and get one.  

A variety of sidelines.  

Lots of stuff for kids here.  

View into the back room area.  

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

Not many bookstores offer pure honey.  

With Darlene in the middle and Teena on the right.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wind City Books - Casper, WY

Wind City Books, Casper, WY
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As an Indie Bob Spot public service announcement, let me issue this statement to all bookstore visits in my future.  When I visit stores, I'm happily snapping pictures throughout the aisles and bookshelves the minute I walk in.  And I assure you and hereby promise that I will NOT take a picture and sprint out of the store to order a book online.  End of statement.  Poor Heather, one of the fine booksellers at Wind City Books, was very worried that I was one of THOSE people.  Once we met and I explained my mission, she breathed a sigh of relief and we both talked some trash about THOSE people who visit bookstores only to find something and then order online.

Wind City Books is on the brink of celebrating its 10 year anniversary and Heather and Amy, the two booksellers I met, told me things are going fairly well.  Ten years in business for an independent bookstore is a great accomplishment deserving of a celebration.  The one-level store has a great downtown location that's very user-friendly for foot traffic.  This works well for a strong core of regular customers as well as tourists.  People on the way to or returning from the Sturgis Festival are some of those tourists who visit here.  Wind City offers all new books and a few sidelines, but these are minimal.  Amy told me that the YA and children's sections are two of the genres that are selling well.  I think the store also has a strong inventory of western themes, Wyoming interests, and regional authors (with national appeal) like Craig Johnson and C. J. Box, a Casper native.  

I especially like the caricature portraits of authors along the right wall.  These are sketched by a talented local artist and I don't think I've seen anything like these in any other indie.  When you visit the store, don't miss out taking some time to look at these.

I didn't get to meet Vicki B., the co-owner, during my visit, but I had a great time meeting Heather and Amy and talking to them.  Amy told me something that I haven't heard yet at other indies but I'm hoping it's true everywhere.  She told me that Wind City has a strong group of customers in the 16-35 age range who value buying books.  They enjoy it so much that they even take "shelfies," pictures at their bookshelves.  What fantastic news for Wind City and hopefully for other bookstores.

Since Wind City has its 10 year anniversary approaching, I think you should help them celebrate and support their presence.  Don't buy them a present, go in and buy yourself a book.  You'll have a great time.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Peace Like A River, Leif Enger.  

RECENLTY PURCHASED:  The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old, Hendrik Groen.

A great front window display with lots of reflection on a beautiful day.  

Sounds good to me.  

This poster is applicable to every single bookstore I visit.  Support your local bookstore and local businesses.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

C. J. Box is from here and is prominently featured.  

A nice display of staff picks.  

A variety of magazines available near the front entrance.  

A relevant magazine for some folks in Wyoming or even for some of my close friends.  

Display of books by local authors.  

Two great chairs to sit down and try out a book.  

Don't mind if I do!

Lots of great author caricatures on the right wall.  Check out this great work by a talented artist.  

Here's the Stephen King caricature.  

A long wall of bookshelves.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

A portion of the children's section.  

Indie Bound recommendations.  

Unique socks available here.  

The store offers a small variety of sidelines.  

This is the back of the cafe area.  

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

The Lord Of The Rings, bound editions.  If you're a fan, get to this store.  

Some good offerings from Europa Publications.  

With Amy on the left and Heather on the right, two of the fine booksellers you'll meet at Wind City Books.  Thanks for a great visit.