Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Hickory Stick Bookshop - Washington Depot, CT

The Hickory Stick Bookshop - Washington Depot, CT
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Huh?  Hickory Stick?  What the heck kind of name is that for a bookstore?  Maybe it isn't even a bookstore?  Maybe it's a store that just sells hickory walking sticks?  Readers, let me leave no doubts in your minds, this is another in a long line of wonderful bookstores that I'm so lucky to see.  My problem here is that I don't know which is better, the bookstore or all the terrific people associated with it.

Fran K. has been the owner here for 13 years and is the 4th ownership of a bookstore that has been an integral part of this community for 60 years.  I am so impressed with bookstores with this kind of longevity.  To paraphrase what Fran told me, bookstores must continue to renew in order to stay relevant.  How right she is!

The store is a spacious, one-level, two-room business.  It is distinctly and neatly organized with the books in the main room and the gifts, sidelines, and children's department in the other room to the right.  The success and endurance of the store is obviously attributed to an incredible community of regulars as well as frequent tourists.  An active events schedule with all of these held in the store or off-site is also an important factor for the store.

But the people here could not have been nicer.  I felt as welcomed as family by staffers Pat, Emily, Ellen, and Tom as well as Fran and her husband Michael.  Heck, Michael even invited us to his farm to see the other part of their lives!  Everyone was fun to talk to and I could have easily spent the day here.  I hope you can visit this store and buy a book or gift but even if you don't get anything, you will have the best time talking to any of these fine people.  This experience is wonderfully the same at almost any independent bookstore.  Kudos to you, Hickory Stick.

But what about the name of this place?  "Reading, writing, arithmetic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick."  Thanks to the vision of two school teachers, the original owners, we can credit them for this wonderful gift and iconic bookstore that serves the people in the Washington, CT community.  Travelers, on your next trip east, don't miss out on visiting this destination bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.


The main barn at Maple Spring Farm.  
Readers, I've often told you how special bookstore people are.  How is it that I can meet people for a first time and feel a friendship that seems like it began years ago?  After visiting the bookstore, Fran and husband Michael invited us to the farm (their home) where the work and product is organic and sustainability.  Mike is a college professor and extremely knowledgeable and passionate on a farm that includes a flock of sheep that have been in the family for 80+ years.  What do the sheep have to do with the bookstore?  They provide the wool for the organic yarn sold there.  They have hens for eggs.  They have grass-fed beef cows.  They have a wonderful garden and friendly dogs.  I had such a good time visiting their home, Maple Spring Farm, I may ask Michael if I can come back and be his farm helper for a week!
Fran and Michael's fantastic view looking out behind their farm.  
What do these sheep on their farm and the bookstore customers at Hickory Stick have in common?  They both have great care-takers!  

An indescribable and wonderful experience, thanks to my good fortune of visiting and meeting a remarkable bookstore owner.

JUST FINISHED:  Soft In The Head, Marie-Sabine Roger.  Middle-aged and simple man, Germain, befriends elderly and educated Margaurette and they become good friends.  He "adopts" her as her grandmother and she is encouraging and kind-hearted to Germain who had a difficult mother.  Liked it, didn't love it.

CURRENTLY READING:  How About Never - Is Never Good For You?, Bob Mankoff.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Jaguar's Children, John Valiant.  Not purchased, but gifted:  My Farm Friends, Wendell Minor.  Heartland, Dianne Siebert, paintings by Wendell Minor.  Thanks Fran!

Another exterior view.  

Looking to the left in the store from the main entrance.  

Looking to the right from the front entrance.  Continue into a second room through an entrance you can see on the right of this picture.  

A nice display of staff picks right inside the entrance.  

A great place to sit and try a book.  

I saw these two dogs in the store.  You'll have to decide.  Are they real or fake?  

Enter this room for gifts, stationery, and a children's section, among other things.    

A nice line of Baggalini items offered here.  

An overview of this second room.  

An extensive selection of greeting cards.  

Your little readers are going to enjoy this!  

On a budget?  Find this display!

Looking across the main room.  

Another nice view of the main room.  The entrance is to the right.  

A great section for tourists visiting the store.  
And yes, here are the hickory walking sticks!  
With Fran in the center and Michael on the right.  Thanks for a great visit.  


  1. So excited and pleased to see this photo essay about our favorite bookstore. We love Fran, Michael, and all the staff. Great books, great service, wonderful programs, staunchly supportive of the community, the 'Hick Stick' (as we lovingly refer to it) is a treasure ~ increasingly rare, especially in such a small town.

  2. After visiting this fine indie and meeting the people there, it's clear to see why this is such a treasured part of the community. Thanks for the great comments, Essie.


  3. hope you're ready for some workout if you do go work on the farm for a week. Michael is a stern taskmaster.

  4. Yep,I'd be ready for it. As long as I can pet the dogs on my break I'm up for it! Thanks Phil!