|The Magic Tree Bookstore, Oak Park, IL|
It's the dead of winter, a gray day with -20 wind chills and it's a wind that bites, snow flurries in the air, a day not fit for either man or beast. In other words, a perfect day to visit a perfect bookstore and I found just the one!
Chicago and the surrounding suburbs is a great area to find some of the country's finest bookstores and although I've seen many of them, there are still plenty more for me to visit (thank goodness!). The Magic Tree Bookstore is located right downtown in the western suburb of Oak Park, a great location. This one-level store has been in business for 30+ years and the last two under the ownership of Beth A., only the 2nd owner in its long run. Magic Tree began as an all children's bookstore and has recently evolved into a store that offers books to all readers. As Beth told me, because of the store's small sizer she and her staff carefully curate their adult inventory offering only what they think will be appealing to their customers.
In addition to new books for all ages, they offer a few sidelines including greeting cards, journals, and lots of interesting things for kids. As an acknowledgement to the community's diversity, they also have a section of foreign language children's books. They have a great partnership with all the schools and their community ties also include a contest for kids to make the store's bookmarks. What a great idea for any indie. The store is also able to offer author events hosted right on site.
I had an absolutely great time meeting Beth and one of her booksellers, Andrea. These two are the best and so much fun to talk to about books. I was so happy to hear from Beth how well things are going. The business is showing good positive growth, they're noticing an upward trend in the buy local movement, and one of my favorite things to hear is she has a terrific group of people on staff.
Oak Park has some wonderful attractions including the home and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright and boyhood home of Ernest Hemingway and the Ernest Hemingway Museum. Meh. Big whoop. For me the big deal in Oak Park is a wonderful independent bookstore and the great people who work there. Check this place out for a winning bookstore experience. Go to an indie and buy a book. Bonsoir.
JUST FINISHED: Slider, Pete Hautman. This would be considered YA or middle reader fiction. Great story of the middle child in a family who eats so much that he becomes a competitive eater. After a mistake using his mom's credit card, he needs money to pay her back so enters a pizza-eating contest in hopes of winning the cash prize. All the while balancing this with helping his younger autistic brother. A fun, light read that is the perfect thing to intersperse between your thick, serious books. Recommended.
CURRENTLY READING: Black Elk Speaks, John Neihardt.
|Another exterior view.|
|The store has lots of window display space.|
|View looking into the store from the front entrance. Curious readers may recognize the celebrity browsing books. Yes, that's my mom.|
|View looking to the right from the front entrance where an eager shopper is already engaged.|
|This is the view along the left wall after entering. Kids will love this section.|
|A relevant display in the children's section.|
|A few of the greeting cards available.|
|A great place to sit and sample a book.|
|The Wimpy Kid books are a great series for kids.|
|Another great area to sit and try out some books.|
|The store has books for all ages and many languages.|
|A nice display of pre-school books.|
|This is the magic tree, in the center of the store. Notice all the wide green ribbons running out from the tree. You can see this from anywhere in the store. This is also where you'll find the check-out counter.|
|These staff picks are right inside the front door but you'll also see staff picks throughout the store with shelf talkers.|
|Those white tabs you see hanging from the shelves are called shelf talkers. Just another way to find staff picks and you'll find that many indies use these.|
|If you have a Batman fan at your house, come to Magic Tree and find these to create your own Batman story.|
|If you have a Sesame Street fan at your house, come to Magic Tree for these darling characters.|
|You can tell that the store was founded as a children's bookstore, there are signs of that throughout the store.|
|Any Groovy Girls fans at your house? Here you go!|
|One more way to attract the kids.|
|Who doesn't like stickers?!|
|An overview of the store looking from the back toward the front entrance.|
|With Beth in the center and Andrea on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at The Magic Tree Bookstore. Thanks for a great visit.|