Sunday, June 11, 2017

Penguin Bookshop - Sewickley, PA

Penguin Bookshop, Sewlickley, PA
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Regular readers know that many of my recent visits have been to newer bookstores, a great thing to see.  But Penguin Books in Sewlickley, PA is at the other end of the spectrum.  In terms of longevity, it has to be in a select group since it has been in business since 1929.  I'm amazed at all the challenges that they must have overcome to make it this far.  And the wonderful thing here is not only the longevity but the quality.  This is the first indie I've visited in Pennsylvania and it has set a high bar for all the other PA indies to come.  

Penguin Books is located in the quaint downtown of Sewickley on a very busy street surrounded by businesses on both sides of the street, a highly visible location.  Although the business has been around since 1929, it is in its fourth location.  Susan H., the owner, moved it here in 2014, the same year she bought the business.  I think it's also impressive that Susan is only the 5th ownership since 1929, a remarkable accomplishment.  The Sewickley community is approximately 12,000, small for an independent bookstore town but it is surrounded by several burroughs and is considered a suburb of Pittsburgh.

The one-level store is in a long, narrow space, offering all new books.  They also have a variety of sidelines including magazines, reading glasses, and a line of Papyrus greeting cards to name just a few.  The organization is excellent and the shelf headings are very attractive.  Obviously, being here for this length of time they are deep in the community.  They have a partnership with some of the local schools for book orders and events.  They also host well-attended story times in the store's children's section.  The store has frequent author events and the flexibility to host them off-site as well as in the store.  

As with all my visits though, the people I meet are the best.  I didn't get to meet Susan but had a great time meeting and talking to Mary F., the store manager.  When Susan purchased the store, Mary encouraged her that she needed to learn the customers' names who patronize the store.  This is an indie hallmark and such a great way to cultivate business.  Kudos Mary and Susan.

Sewickley seems to have a lot of character and charm.  Not surprising that an independent bookstore has been giving it that added sparkle since 1929 and playing an important part in that character and charm.  Check out the sparkle at this gem.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  This Boy's Life, Tobias Wolff.  I loved this book.  Author's memoir of growing up in the 1950s with a single mother, abusive step-father, and lots of moving around.  A great story.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Nix, Nathan Hill.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Miss Moon, Wise Words From A Dog Governess, Janet Hill.  And gifted from Mary, City Of Secrets, Stewart O' Nan.  Elegance, Kathleen Tessaro.  A Column Of Fire, Ken Follett.  Thanks Mary!  

One of the attractive window displays.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Scrupulous readers may recognize the illusive celebrity sprinting into the store.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Check out the very active events schedule near the front entrance.  

View looking to the left of the front entrance.  

A great staff recommendations display.  

Notice the poster-size book covers around the store and you'll see some of the authors who have been here for events.  

Display of recent releases.  

Another fine display of the indie bestsellers.  Apologies for the blur.  

A few of the magazines available.  

Some very hip reading glasses guarded by the penguins.  

A very nice selection of greeting cards.  

There are many penguins displayed throughout the store and many of them have a story.  This group (flock? colony?) dates from the 1940s.  

A few of the items of local interest.  

View at the rear of the store looking into the children's section and the story time area.  

You'll also find staff picks in the children's section.  

A very creative children's corner and more penguins!

A horrible picture of a wonderful overview looking from the back toward the front entrance.  Again, apologies for the blur.  

An assortment of journals and notebooks.  

Always ask any independent bookstore about gift cards, a fantastic gift idea.  

With Mary, Penguin's fine store manager.  Thanks for a great visit.  

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