|Readers Realm Gallery, Montello, WI|
For those of you who regularly read these blog entries, I hope on some level you can get a feeling for the sheer joy and fun I'm having visiting these bookstores and the wonderful people I am fortunate to meet. In a tiny little town tucked away in central Wisconsin, this indie has it all. Even more amazing, it has it all and its hidden in a town of approximately 1500. As I've speculated many times before, how does a town of 1500 do this when so many larger cities and towns cannot? You could pluck this gem out of Montello and set it down anywhere in the country and it would easily stack up with all the other indies.
So yes, this indie DOES have it all. They offer new and used books, giving store credit to customers who bring in used books. They also occasionally receive donated books and Kathleen L., the owner, keeps her eyes open for local estate sales. Book collectors should put this store on their list to see one room devoted entirely to vintage and collectable editions. There are a vast array of sidelines including quirky sleep shirts, journals, greeting cards, jewelry, and other curious oddities only found at independent bookstores. These sidelines are absolutely critical to the store's business. They host author signings, various events, and bookclubs the same as if it were in a much larger town. All of this is housed in a historical space built in 1875, originally a Methodist church. When you visit, you can easily see this. Kathleen has done an outstanding job of transforming it into its beautiful present form, a bookstore.
The store has been in business for 5 years, so what's their secret? As Laura, a staffer, told me, its sidelines and tourists. There are nearby lakes and waterways making this a tourist destination and helping Readers Realm attract customers. The good news is that even in this small town, the business is showing growth.
The cherry on top of this terrific picture are Kathleen and Laura, the two-woman team that run the store. Wonderful women to talk to about the area, bookstores, and books. It should be no surprise that things are going well here thanks to Kathleen's many years of experience in the book business.
The challenge for stores like these can be the winter months. I hope the regular customers who live in Montello and the nearby communities don't let a little snow or cold keep them away in those months. Montello, keep up the good work and continue to support this great bookstore. Go to an indie and buy a book. Bonsoir.
CURRENTLY READING: Behind Closed Doors, B. A. Paris.
RECENTLY PURCHASED: A Woman In Berlin, Anonymous. Not purchased but gifted, Bookstore Tourism, Larry Portzline. Thanks Kathleen.
|It looks like a church, talks like a church, feels like a church, but it ain't a church!|
|The "whimsy" would be the quirky sidelines found here and at many other indies.|
|Just inside the front door and looking to the right.|
|Just inside the front door and looking left. This area is the front vestibule commonly found in many churches. You'd probably be greeted in this area, given a program, and sign a guest book if it were a wedding.|
|View looking straight into the bookstore. It's easy to see the church in here. This main area would be the rows of pews and they would be facing toward the front where they would listen to the service.|
|Proceed a few steps into the store then turn around and look up. These 5 author cutouts are in the organ loft.|
|Looking to the right shortly after entering and you'll find the children's section.|
|Wonderful display just inside the store of recent releases and bestsellers.|
|A few of the many sidelines available. You'll find sidelines scattered throughout the store.|
|A portion of the books available of regional and local interest.|
|You'll find jewelry displayed in two glass cases near the check-out counter.|
|Only in an independent bookstore.|
|Maybe you're looking for a unique sleep shirt? They have them here.|
|A nice place to sit and sample a book.|
|This is the raised area in the front of the former church. This area now is used for events or finding some places to sit and try out books.|
|This is a great place to gather a book club.|
|If you get tired of browsing books, go up on this "stage" and plunk out a tune on the grand piano.|
|This is looking out into the store from the dais that the preacher would have been on.|
|A small room to the left of the dais with horror and sci-fi books.|
|A typical Stephen King reader.|
|This would work for family gatherings.|
|This is the room to the right of the dais. A very cool room that feels very historical. You'll find vintage and collectible editions here.|
|Send this info to the collectors you know. Someone out there is looking for these.|
|Display of books near the front entrance featuring the Great American Read.|
|An overview of the store from the organ loft. If this were a church you would be looking toward the front, but since it's a bookstore you're looking toward the back.|
|Another nice overview from the other side of the organ loft.|
|With Kathleen on the left and Laura on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at Readers Realm Gallery. Thanks for a great visit.|