Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fox Den Used Books - River Falls, WI

Fox Den Used Books, River Falls, WI
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I've had this bookstore on my radar to visit for quite awhile.  In fact, I can remember specifically when I added it.  When I was visiting 6th Chamber Used Books in St. Paul, MN, I found out from James W., the owner, that his wife Heather was also in the business.  Great, a husband and wife team.  How fun that must be for both of them.  Except for one thing.  They are the owners at two different bookstores, James at 6th Chamber and Heather at Fox Den in River Falls.  And now that I've been to Fox Den I feel like I've completed a two-part series.

In terms of inventory, both stores are similar.  Fox Den is a medium-sized one-level store with a great assortment of used books.  And as much as adults will enjoy this store I think kids will like it even more.  The number of sidelines here that will appeal to kids is endless.  Games of all varieties for all ages, lots of educational toys and puzzles, every Harry Potter item imaginable, and come on, what 10-year old wouldn't love fart bombs?!  For the adults you can pick from a variety of jigsaw puzzles and greeting cards to name just a few.  Then of course there is the extensive inventory of used books.  As far as I could tell, all of these books were in great shape and many looked like new.  And if they don't have the book in the store, they can check with James at 6th Chamber and get it from him.  What a great advantage for both stores!

But the big thing here are the abundance of events.  Everything from a game night (just like 6th Chamber) where you get to play games to story times for children.  They have Harry Potter "productions" in the store and if you have a Harry Potter fan in your family, this store is a MUST SEE.  How about an art class?  Maybe you'd enjoy a science class or an astronomy class?  You'll find those here.  If you're in the River Falls area, I would encourage you to keep an eye on all the events you can enjoy at Fox Den.

I had a great time talking to Heather and her mother, Louise, who was helping in the store on the day of my visit.  Two wonderful women who told me a lot about the store and the community.  Heather has degrees in art and literature and her creativity is obvious throughout the store.

Hey Twin Cities, this is an easy drive to River Falls and you can escape the congestion of a big city and be here in no time.  Bring the family to Fox Den Used Books and you'll easily find lots of wonderful books and gifts that you just can't find anywhere else, thanks to Heather and a terrific independent bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Residence, Kate Andersen Brower.  True story of the many people who work behind the scenes at the White House and their interactions with the first families.  The butlers, ushers, maids, electricians, painters, florists, chefs, and more who have impacted our first families through the years.  Covers the period from the Eisenhower administration through Obama administration.  This is a rare glimpse of what goes on at the White House through times of tragedy, stupidity, and immorality, seen through the eyes of the people who work there.  If you like historical non-fiction, this is your book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  In The President's Secret Service, Ronald Kessler.

Another exterior picture.  

One of the display windows.  Thanks to the reflection, you also see the other side of the street!  

Another great front window display.  

View looking straight through the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the left and the variety of sidelines that will catch the kids right away.  The children's section is behind this display, in the front of the store.  

Harry Potter fans are advised to limit their flying.  

I cannot stress enough how much Harry Potter fans will enjoy this store.  

Lots of stuffed animals in a portion of the children's section.  

A long wall of books, one of my favorite sights.  

Look for new arrival books in this area, center of the store.  

Lots of dragons to pick from.  

Another portion of the children's section.  

If you like jigsaw puzzles, there are many to choose from.  

This is a great area in the back of the store for a versatile events space.  

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

These dragon wings might be a good option for Halloween.  

You can also find occasional collectable or vintage editions.  

More Harry Potter themed items.  

With apologies to my elementary and middle school teacher friends.   

The 10-year old me would've bought several of these.  

With Heather on the right, the fine owner at Fox Den Used Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Content Bookstore - Northfield, MN

Content Bookstore, Northfield, MN
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Readers, you're really going to enjoy your visit to this bright and cheery bookstore.  This store has a wonderful content of books, both new and used, all on one-level.  And when you enter and see the nice displays and attractive arrangements, you will instantly become quite content.  I guess this means you will be content to see the content in Content (you can decide how to pronounce the name of the store!).  

When you drive through the downtown district of Northfield, it has a kind of Norman Rockwell-ish feel.  The kind of vibe where you can't imagine this town without a bookstore.  It turns out that this has been true for many years.  Content is only in its 3rd year at this great downtown location but the bookstore has been here many years under different names.  Most recently it was Monkey See, Monkey Read.  This town of approximately 20,000 has supported bookstores for years and now it is behind Content.  It's beneficial to be the home of 2 colleges, Carleton and St. Olaf, which helps with the level of education and community members who engage with an independent bookstore.  In a town of this size, strong local support is critical and that's a big factor here.

One of my favorite events they have here is called Happy Hours.  It's a story time with snacks for the kids and wine for the mothers.  "Honey, I'm taking little darling to Content for story time."  Really Sweetie?  Again?  Do they have it every day of the week?  This would seem to be an indie grand-slam to me.   Happy Hours aside, the store is very active with author events and has good flexibility with space on-site.  They have a modest amount of sidelines which are important, but as Chloe, one of the booksellers told me, the books do really well here.  Several book clubs are involved with the store and you'll also be able to get future discounts if you're part of the customer rewards program.  

I didn't meet Jessica, one of the co-owners, during my visit but I did have a nice email exchange with her and she said Chloe would be able to answer my questions during my visit.  The store was in great hands with Chloe and she was terrific to talk to when I was at the store.  This is one of the reasons I enjoy bookstore visits so much.  I think we could've talked about books and bookstores all day.

I would find it hard to believe if any of the 20,000 inhabitants of Northfield haven't been to this store.  If not, I wouldn't admit it to anyone.  This place is a 5-star gem and you need to see what you're been missing.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Unexpectedly, Milo, Matthew Dicks.  I thoroughly enjoy this author (Memoir Of An Imaginary Friend) and this is the 2nd book of his I've read.  Story of Milo, a 30-something in a failing marriage and Milo has severe OCD which interferes with his daily life.  Compulsions like waking up in the middle of the night and needing to go to a bowling alley and bowl a strike.  Or singing karaoke to a song with German lyrics.  Or letting the air out of his car tires and putting in fresh air.  Very quirky, but you'll never see the end coming by what you read in the beginning.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Residence, Kate Andersen Brower.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Kids Of Appetite, David Arnold.  

Great front window display.  

Another exterior view.  

Looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking directly to the left from the front entrance.  

The first shelf of fiction right inside the store with several staff recommendations.  

A couple of great seats in the front of the store.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Some of the various sidelines located near the front of the store.  

Another great chair to try out a book.  

I'm surprised some of my faithful readers haven't bought me this book!  

A portion of the children's area.  

This is part of the area where in-store events are held.  

There is a connecting doorway in the back of the store that takes you into this yarn shop.  If you have a friend or relative who enjoys knitting, take them here after you buy a book!

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

Your kids will love Mudpuppy.  

I encourage everyone to always check out the sections of local authors and interests at any independent bookstore.  

These books are temporarily located on the shelves at Content Bookstore.  They need a home.  With you!

With Chloe on the left, one of the fine booksellers at Content Bookstore.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Cornerstone Used Books - Villa Park, IL

Cornerstone Used Books, Villa Park, IL
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I'm aware that there are some people who approach used bookstores with apprehension and caution.  I understand this trepidation because of some of those stores I've seen (none of which I've written about).  The ones that are disorganized, cluttered, smelly or moldy, and in a general state of disarray.  Let me not only reassure you, but encourage you to spend time at Cornerstone Used Books in Villa Park.  You'll find none of those aforementioned characteristics at this terrific bookstore.  Very neat, well-organized, clean, bright, and best of all is their remarkable inventory of books.  

Even though the name of the store is Cornerstone Used Books, they do offer some new books here including recent releases.  They take in a large number of used books that are in good condition and offer store credit to customers.  I thought their selection of books offered were outstanding.  I especially like that they have a customer incentive program that allows customers to fill a stamp card for an in-store benefit.  It would be great if more indies had customer incentive programs.  In addition to the books there is a large selection of music on vinyl, CDs, DVDs,  movies on VHS, and greeting cards.  

I didn't get to meet co-owner Kathy C. on this visit but I can tell she knows her stuff and has good people around her.  Like other successful indies, she has good community connections with local schools, charities, and social causes like autism awareness.  Nearby middle school students have book reviews for some of the store's books.  Kathy also has occasional store events including a monthly story time in cooperation with the local library.  I also understand that she's scored a huge coup with a visit from a famous celebrity this holiday season.  Santa Claus will be visiting the store and this is a great event to bring children and families into the bookstore.  I think Kathy and her staff are doing a great job, not surprising since she's been doing this for 14 years.

I had a great time at the store meeting Betty, Valerie, and Eric.  Betty told me a lot about the store and its history and was wonderful to take so much time to visit with me.  As with so many other indies, this is always one of my highlights.  It's a cinch visiting this store since it is located in a small shopping plaza with lots of free parking.

So bring in your good used books, get some store credit, and shop the incredible inventory for more books at this wonderful suburban Chicago bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Unexpectedly, Milo, Matthew Dicks.

Another exterior view.  

A very spacious front window display.

You're not going to find a better bargain than this anywhere.  

Before you even enter the store you can browse an extensive CD collection.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the right from the front entrance.  Along this front area you'll find a large selection of music on vinyl.  

Looking to the left after entering the store.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

I would strongly encourage customers to take advantage of this as the holiday season approaches. 

Regular customers should also take advantage of the customer incentive program.  

A few of the movies and DVDs available.  

Vinyl music lovers will thoroughly enjoy visiting this store.  

A nice display of some of the featured authors.  

Have a seat and sample a book.  

You'll find just about any genre here.  This room is in the rear of the store.  

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

A portion of the children's section.  

The store offers collectible editions located near the front.  

With Betty on the right, one of the fine booksellers at Cornerstone Used Books.  Thanks for a great visit.