Monday, January 30, 2017

Books & Co - Oconomowoc, WI

Books & Co, Oconomowoc, WI
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If I were ever going to open a bookstore (not going to happen) I would have Lisa B. on my speed dial.  Lisa is the owner at Books & Co and she really knows the business and the industry.  Everything from national trends, community preferences, to sidelines and more.  She has a breadth and depth of bookselling experiences from New Mexico, to Kansas, to Iowa, to Wisconsin, and probably other places I'm forgetting.  Lisa is well-connected with the ABA (American Booksellers Association) which is a fantastic resource to assist bookstores with any number of challenges.  Add to this her ability to converse and interact with customers and you have yourself a talented owner and bookseller.  Given all this, it's no surprise that Books & Co is a successful and enduring independent bookstore.  

Considering this store is located in a community of about 15,000, I think its inventory is outstanding.  Books & Co has all new books including the recent releases and bestsellers.  In recent years, they've really beefed up their children's section and that has proven to be a good decision.  The store offers a good variety of sidelines including greeting cards, boxed sets of cards, and those crazy socks that I only seem to find in bookstores.  As with other bookstores, the sidelines are a critical part of the store's profit margin.  The store continues to do well or as Lisa told me, "We're still in business!"  Good news for independent bookstore patrons.

One of the things that Lisa shared with me was the importance of the store as a community gathering space, or a "3rd place."  A place where families can gather for free, a place for children to enjoy a story time, a great place for teens from the nearby hight school to hang out.  Another advantage is the coffee shop located right next door and accessible though the inside of the store.  I think all book stores are community centers to a certain degree but it is front and center here at Books & Co.

When I asked Lisa what her secret was, she told me what I've heard from others.  Tenacity.  This, along with creativity, a friendly staff, free parking (seriously, this is huge), and an expansive one-level space are just a few of the reasons you'll want to visit Books & Co.  You'll enjoy the wonderful people here and I can guarantee they'll have lots of book recommendations for you to check out.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Searching For John Hughes, Jason Diamond.  This book is mainly about the author's obsession with every movie that John Hughes has produced, written, or directed.  He touches on many of those films and inter-weaves the story of his own personal life challenges, especially his difficult childhood.  Meh.  If you're a John Hughes fan, this is a must read.  

CURRENTLY READING:  A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Wintering, Peter Geye.  Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, Karen Foxlee.

Another exterior picture that suffers from my poor photo skills.  

One of the front window displays.  

Enter here!

Great view looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Look to the right from the front entrance and browse an assortment of magazines.  

More magazines are located to the left of the front entrance as well as a line of Baggallini.  

An attractive display for the kids and a pajama time story hour.  A great idea.  

You'll be able to spend a long time in front of this terrific display, on the left side of the store after you enter.  

Lots of staff recommendations to choose from.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

If I were a regular, I would go straight to this area and try out a book.  The doors on the left lead into the coffee shop.  

Take a reading break and play a game of chess.  

A great quote above the doors that lead into the coffee shop.  

If you visit a bookstore and they have a pair of socks you like, get them.  You'll rarely find them elsewhere.  

I love it when I find stuff like this in a bookstore!  

A good selection of audio books, for rent or purchase.  

Looking into a portion of the children's section.  

A nice place for a little reader.  

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

Please pass this thought along to the people who don't get it.  

I love the big book cover posters around the store.  

With Lisa, the fine owner at Books & Co.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tribeca Gallery Cafe & Books - Watertown, WI

Tribeca Gallery Cafe & Books, Watertown, WI
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If you're even a regular reader of The Indie Bob Spot you'll recognize recurring themes in many of these bookstore write-ups.  When acknowledging a store's success, it simply cannot be avoided since successful indies share many of the same attributes.  The match that lit the fuse for this bookstore was relocating from the edge of town to a downtown corner location on the main street through town.  The business began ten years ago but for the last eight it has been in its current downtown location.  As I've stated before, location, location, location.  But when you visit here, there's way more to Tribeca's success that just the location.

One of the most unique things I enjoy here is the store space within the building.  A beautiful, two-level store, where the upper level could be described more as a mezzanine or balcony, absolutely charming.  There is plenty of seating throughout including several comfortable chairs in the front of the store, chairs and table toward the back, and more options on the mezzanine.  My suggestion to visitors would be to grab a book and a coffee and head upstairs to snag a window seat.  The atmosphere is attractive for members of the local college and prep school community that make up a portion of the customer base.  It's also obvious there's a strong group of local regulars since Julie C., the owner, greeted many in the store by name.  Tribeca has a great assortment of new books for all ages, a nice variety of sidelines, and a wonderful cafe that serves an assortment of beverages and food.

Success is also defined by the staff and community.  Julie, Alicia (events coordinator), and Allison (store manager) are some of the nicest people you'll meet in a bookstore.  Julie does lots of community outreach, as all indies do, and it's an important role for the store.  Watertown has a population of approximately 25,000 and is so lucky to have a store like this since many communities much larger have nothing.  However, as a former educator, I don't understand communities where the schools offer little support or partnership to their local bookstores.  Many schools in other communities have outstanding relationships with their local bookstores.  I would hope that the Watertown schools would recognize the importance of and rewards of engaging with its local businesses, a great lesson for its town and the students who attend those schools.  Shop local and buy local for a strong community.  

If you've never been here, check it out.  Attend an author event, go to a music event, bring your toddler to a story time, go to a coloring book party an sip some wine, stop in for some coffee, or heck, go in and buy a book!  You have lots of options at this terrific bookstore and they're all winners.  If you're like me, you'll come away with the opinion that this bookstore is one of the star attractions of Watertown, WI.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara.  This book has been strongly recommended by many booksellers I've met.  Follows the lives of 4 guys who met in college, with occasional flashbacks to their younger years.  All become successful in later years but the story has a darkness with the main character, Jude, and his troubled childhood.  This book contains scenes of physical abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, and addiction.  A heartbreaking story but there is a redeeming theme of unconditional love.  A great book but a very disturbing story.  Recommended, but this won't be for everyone.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Searching For John Hughes, Jason Diamond.

Believe me, on a cold January day in Wisconsin no incentive is needed to enter the store!

Another exterior view. 

A spacious front window display.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Conscientious readers may recognize the celebrity on the right.  Yes, that's my mom.  

As if you need another reason to visit!  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  A great space to gather for morning coffee.  

A wonderful display just to the right after entering.  

A great time to find good buys on this sale table display.  

One of the book aisles.  

Tribeca has some great sidelines and this display has some of them.  

A portion of the local interests and local authors.  

A few more sidelines.  Lots of options.  

Just try to say no.  This is in the cafe area.  

A great cafe menu.  

This is a room in the back of the store that can be used by groups.  The history of the building includes a period of time at a funeral home.  This room was where they kept the caskets.  

You might want to consider this activity.  There's wine.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Translation?  Bathrooms.  

A nice overview of the store looking down from the mezzanine level and toward the front entrance.  

This is the mezzanine level, home of the children's department and also lots of seating.  If you're taller than 6'2",  you'll have to tilt your head to walk up here.  Very low clearance for tall people but perfect for kids.  

Kids will love this display.  

A portion of the kids section.  

From the front of the store looking toward the back, on the mezzanine level.  

If I were a regular, I'd grab a seat in this area of the mezzanine with a great view out the window overlooking the main street through town.  

Another nice overview of the store looking down from the mezzanine level, looking from the front of the store toward the back.  

A great children's series.  

This reminds me of those grade school tests where you pick out the item that doesn't belong to the group!  From L-R, Allison, your's truly, Julie, and Alicia, part of the fine staff at Tribeca.  Thanks for a great visit.