Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Brilliant Books - Traverse City, MI

Brilliant Books, Traverse City, MI
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This is my third tour through Michigan and after my 1st tour of Michigan was already behind me, I received a message from a follower asking if I had made it to Brilliant Books in Traverse City, because it is a great bookstore.  Drat it all.  I had to tell her that I didn't make it there but I would try to get back.  And now finally, I can say, mission accomplished and the reader was right.  What a wonderful bookstore located in the heart of downtown Traverse City.  In fact, the follower undersold it.  This indie isn't merely great, it's (say it with me) BRILLIANT.

This is an example of another bookstore that could've easily been included in Ron Rice's, My Bookstore.  An expansive one-level space offering all new books, everything neatly arranged and displayed.  I thought the children's section was especially outstanding as well as the offerings by local authors and interests.  The local interest books, in my opinion, are probably big sellers in the summers when this town is hit with hundreds of thousands of tourists.  These tourists make up an important part of the customer base since many continue to purchase books from the store on-line.  This is a great service for those folks who return home to a town with no independent bookstore.  In fact, this is just a huge part of the business and the store bills itself as "Your Long Distance Local Bookstore."  There are some good perks with the store for doing this and they offer a unique subscription service that I haven't noticed elsewhere (Brilliant Books).

Brilliant Books offers events, held right in the store.  They also have a variety of sidelines including lots of greeting cards, reading glasses, t-shirts, onesies for the baby, socks, and a few other items that will make you smile.  The store has an incentive program and by becoming a member you can earn some good discounts and perks.  I wish more indies would do this.

The highlight of my day though was meeting five of the wonderful people who work here.  Peter, the co-owner with his wife who started the business here 10 years ago, along with Andrew, Rachel, Jack, and Caitlin, the social media person, were the best.  What an all-star staff they have here.  My only disappointment was not meeting the rest of their team!

Since Traverse City is such a tourist destination, I'm counting on all my tourist followers to check this store out.  I had to pull myself out of the store or I would've been there all day.  You won't have to worry about that on your vacation.  Enjoy a wonderful experience at Brilliant Books.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly.

RECENTYLY PURCHASED:  Not purchased but gifted, a souvenir Brilliant Books coffee mug.  Thanks Peter!

Another exterior view of a beautiful store front.  

The store has lots of window display space.  

View looking straight into the store from the front entrance.  Enterprising readers may recognize the celebrity scanning the book display.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance and a great wall display, all books displayed with covers facing out.  

All of the table displays were outstanding.  

Need a t-shirt for your next literary party?  Here you go.  

Just a portion of the books offered by local authors.  

Just a few of the greeting cards available.  

The store has a long wall of fiction and I love the big sign to help find it.  

A nice display of Shinola journals.  

Check this out.  A map of the many places where Brilliant Books ships books, from their store in Traverse City all over the country.  My guess is that they ship to more than what the map can show.  

Thankfully they offer reading glasses for shoppers like me who break and lose them often.  

When bookstores have the space, I think this is a great way to display t-shirts.  

This is part of the very comfortable seating area, right in the middle of the store.  

Socks and bookbags.  

A portion of the children's section.  

Kids are going to love coming here.  

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

This long wall of books will keep you busy.  

Only at an independent bookstore.  

A few of the all-stars you're going to enjoy meeting at Brilliant Books.  L-R: Rachel, Jack Andrew, Peter (the owner), and Caitlin.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Round Lake Bookstore - Charlevoix, MI

Round Lake Bookstore, Charlevoix, MI
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Readers, if you're looking for a resort town getaway you couldn't do much better than Charlevoix, MI.  This charming, picturesque town in northern Michigan is beautifully situated between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix.  The population is approximately 2500 and fortunately for these folks there is a wonderful independent bookstore located right downtown.  You're probably wondering how a town this size can possibly support a business like this.  Maybe you should ask the 30,000+ people that vacation and live here every summer.  A hard core group of regulars, an abundance of summer tourists, and a busy holiday season all adds up to a good business for this gem of a bookstore.

The Round Lake Bookstore is a one-level store with two smallish rooms that offers all new books.  The store is really packed but everything is very neatly arranged and all of the book displays are attractive.  I thought the local display of Michigan interests was especially good and Larry B., one of the staffers, told me that these books sell well during the tourist season.  The store offers some sidelines including greeting cards journals, and some smaller items.  It's nice to know that the store has been around now for about 10 years and for the last two in the current location.  

I didn't get to meet Diane D., the owner, or Bob B., the store manager, but I did find out what retired attorneys do when they hang it up.  Larry's background was in law (he does everything by the BOOKS here!  Get it?!) (Ok, I know you just rolled your eyes!).  Now, Larry volunteers at the wonderful public library and works part-time at Round Lake.  If you like mysteries, I hope you get to meet Larry at the store.  I always learn so much when I meet bookstore people and Larry really filled me in on a few mystery authors I didn't know as well.

To the hearty 2000+ citizens in Charlevoix who will endure the winter, here's your challenge.  Visit Round Lake enough to get it and yourself, through the winter.  Take a friend and take the relatives when they visit.  This is a heck of a bookstore and your patronage will help keep it that way.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Lock Artist, Steve Hamilton.

Another exterior view with some great places to sit outside on a nice day.  

A nice display window with the Round Lake logo.  

Lots of good window display space.  

Looking straight into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the left from the front entrance.  

Every bookstore customer should heed these directions.  

Left side of the store and a long wall of books.  

Find this cart and check out the new releases.  

A good assortment of food related books and cookbooks.  

Two comfortable places to sit and try out a book, located in the front of the store.  

After entering the store, if you go immediately to the right you'll walk directly into the second room.  This is the view looking through the room.  Mystery lovers will want to spend a lot of time in this room.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Hey Lee Child fans, have you read all the Jack Reacher novels?  If you haven't, you need to visit this store.  

A partial view of the children's section.  

Lots of staff picks on display.  

Display of books of local interests.  

If you drove to Charlevoix for a vacation and have a couple of kids in the backseat, consider these cards on your return trip if they get tired of their technology.  

With Larry on the right, one of the fine staffers at Round Lake Bookstore.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Purple Tree Books - Cheboygan, MI

Purple Tree Books, Cheboygan, MI
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Several years ago, Cheboygan, MI found a void in its community when the owners of the Log Mark, a 40-year established bookstore, decided to retire.  Cheboygan finally found its savior to fill that void a couple of years later when Emily C. founded Purple Tree Books.  Now 4 years later, Purple Tree Books is showing business growth and is the emerging presence that Log Mark provided for many years.

This was the challenge before traveling to Purple Tree Books.  "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays The Indie Bob Spot from the swift completion of his appointed bookstores."

Emily named her bookstore Purple Tree Books as a way to recognize and raise awareness for Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that her 8-year old niece Evie battles, but is now doing quite well.  Since purple is the color for Cystic Fibrosis, Emily used that in the name of her bookstore and as the color trim of her store.  Many bookstores adopt worthy social causes but Emily takes this to a new level.  What a wonderful gesture by Evie's aunt!

Purple Tree has a great location on the main street in downtown Cheboygan.  It occupies the same space of the previous bookstore, in a historic building that was built in 1904.  The store offers both new and used books and they're shelved together throughout the store.  Customers receive store credit for the books they bring in but Emily is particular about the books she'll take.  There are a mixture of sidelines including greeting cards, boxed sets of cards, soaps, and journals to name just a few.  There is also a cafe coffee shop right in the store that is very nice and an important part of the business.  This has recently been added the last two years.

Obviously, in this town of approximately 4800, it takes more than their devoted regulars to sustain the business.  Fortunately, Cheboygan enjoys a dynamic tourist season in the summers which is a huge part of the customer base.  Hopefully, a few tourists find their way to this article and discover the bookstore.  And the parking is easy here, free and right on the street (I NEVER underestimate this on bookstore visits).

What I know about Cheboygan is they are good people.  Emily felt welcomed here 4 years ago and they're supporting an important business that many larger towns would love to have.  And if she doesn't have it in the store she can order it for you, just like any other bookstore.  Keep it up, Cheboygan.  If you haven't been here yet, make sure you check this one out.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly.

Purple Tree store front.  Notice that here in Cheboygan, the flowers are blooming and the sidewalk is dry and clear.  

View looking into the bookstore from the front entrance.  Discerning readers may recognize the celebrity in the foreground heading into the store.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Display of books by Michigan authors.  

Looking to the left from the front entrance you'll see a beautiful mural above the bookshelves.  

Grab a coffee and browse some books.  

A great place to sit in the front of the store where you can sip your coffee and play some checkers.  What a great space.  

I love that this store has a lot of great places to sit.  

If you're a tourist, don't leave the store without getting a Michigan postcard to send to friends.  

Another wonderful space for groups to sit and talk about their next book club selection.  

Looking into the children's area.  

A great cause and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis.  

Lots of things to pick from in the cafe area.  

A partial view of the cafe area.  You can sit here to enjoy your coffee or find another place around the store.  You have lots of options.

A variety of sidelines on this table display.  

Many bookstores I visit have some great quotes on the walls.  

A few of the unique greeting cards available.  

If you're on a budget, look for this book cart.  

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

A nice long wall of bookshelves loaded with books.  

An assortment of magazines and newspapers located near the front of the store.  

With Emily, the fine owner at Purple Tree Books.  Thanks for a great visit.