Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ninth Street Bookshop - Wilmington, DE

Ninth Street Bookshop, Wilmington, DE
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The Ninth Street Bookshop is an indie beacon sending a beam of hope to all those recently opened bookstores that you can do it.  You can survive, endure, and be a sustainable bookstore.  This indie has been just that for 40+ years in the urban setting of downtown Wilmington.  Not the easiest place to sell a book, but you can't overlook 40+ years of success.  But my write-up for this indie will also be a call to arms to someone who many be reading this.  Now is your chance.  Sadly, Ninth Street Books may have to close their doors for good.  Husband and wife co-owners, Jack and Gemma B., will be retiring soon and unless someone decides to buy their business, the store will be forced to close.  I know there are many aspiring bookstore owners out there and to them I say, give this some thought.

What will you find here?  A very attractive one-level indie in a narrow space located on a corner of downtown Wilmington.  Your customers will be mostly local, including some of the government employees from their nearby office buildings.  It will also include books mailed to prisoners, as many as 100/month.  I'd say the customers are pretty devoted since they voted for the bookstore not to change its name when they moved to their current location, not on 9th St., but the corner of 8th St. and Market.

What else?  You'll find all new books, neatly arranged.  A few magazines and greeting cards that sell quite well.  An expanded religious and spiritual section which is selling well now since one of the Christian bookstore chains recently went out of business.  Finally, a wonderful children's section where you can see the great care that Gemma has put into that.  

Lastly, you're going to meet some wonderful and knowledgeable people who have years of experience in the bookstore business.  I didn't get to meet Gemma, but her husband Jack was great to meet and visit with.  I also met Jo Anne who has 35+ years of bookstore experience and was equally nice to meet.  When you get ready to buy this business, make sure you take advantage of their expertise at this great store.

Wilmington, the clock is ticking.  Do you want an independent bookstore?  Visit this one before it's too late and hopefully visit it someday to meet the new owners.  Check out one of Delaware's top independent bookstores.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Bottoms, Joe R. Lansdale.  Story of a white family living in east Texas in the 1930s.  A time when racism can be brutal, especially in the south.  Several African-American women have been murdered and the racist white community shows little interest until a white woman is murdered.  The protagonist white family takes an unpopular stand and is pretty much on their own.  I thought this book was excellent and one blurb compared its theme to, To Kill A Mockingbird.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  Survivor's Club, Michael Bernstein and Debbie Bernstein Holinstat.    

Another exterior view of the great corner location.  

Spacious display window.  

Check out the bargains before you enter the store.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Alert readers may recognize the celebrity in the foreground.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.

A variety of Bible cases available here as well as several spiritual and inspirational books and items.  

You'll find some interesting sidelines at the check-out counter.  

A great section of travel books near the front of the store.  

A few of the magazines available.  

Lots of greeting cards in the store.  

...for 40+ years.  Congrats, Jack and Gemma.  

A portion of the items of local interest and by local authors.  

An extensive section of afro fiction and non-fiction.  

A portion of the children's section.  

The store offers a line of Melissa & Doug toys for kids.  

A nice place to sit down and sample a book, in the children's section.  

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

Consider getting a map to find all the bookstores you want to visit.  

ALWAYS ask your independent bookstore about gift cards.  

A nice display of Crane & Co stationery.  

With Jack on the left, one of the fine co-owners of the Ninth Street Bookshop.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Inkwood Books - Haddonfield, NJ

Inkwood Books, Haddonfield, NJ
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Have you had it with the real world?  Is your high pressure, high stress job starting to wear you down?  Boy, have I got some good career advice for you.  Step back, take a breath, and find a job that is night and day different from stress and pressure.  Of course, readers, you know what I'm suggesting.  Naturally, you do exactly what Julie B. at Inkwood Books has done and open a bookstore.  In her case, she went from the world of law to the world of books.  And the smile on her face spoke volumes about the contentment of her career change.

As much as Julie enjoys this, the people of Haddonfield are especially glad because an absence in the community has been filled.  Inkwood Books has been open now for two years and has filled the void of no independent bookstore in the southern Jersey region.  The store is continuing to find new customers all the time and the word is still getting out about this newbie.  This one-level indie has a great location on the main street through downtown.  Many of the city's outdoor festivals and events are in this area and these are great for bringing out-of-towners into the store.  It is also a great location for its proximity to some of the schools which helps bring kids into the store.  Other than that, this is primarily a strong local community bookstore, something every town deserves.  

Julie is doing a great job of developing ties within the community.  She offers events in the store or off-site for the larger events.  Tweens have a bookclub that meets in the store and Julie goes to a senior center to lead a book club for those folks.  There are also quarterly poetry events held right in the store.  Inkwood offers a few sidelines including a variety of greeting cards, socks, candles, and journals and notebooks just to name a few.  

Julie was very patient to talk to me during my visit.  The store was very busy, she was placing orders (YAY!), and helping indoctrinate a new employee.  I'm so appreciative of all these bookstore owners who allow me to ask a few question and chat about the store.  

If Inkwood Books sounds familiar, it should.  There's another Inkwood Books in Tampa, FL owned by her sister.  If the Tampa store is like the Haddonfield store, I'll have a great visit there, too.  

But for everyone in south Jersey, this is your place.  Wake-up and smell the coffee!  You have a great indie right under your noses and some of you haven't found it yet.  Take a friend and visit Inkwood Books for an experience of book-browsing that you'll return to again and again.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Bottoms,  Joe R. Lansdale.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Lion, Saroo Brierley.

Another view of the storefront.  

One of the neatly arranged display windows.  

When you enter the bookstore, you'll walk through the doors with this welcome.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Display of books made into movies.  Always read the book first!

A great place to sit and sample a book.  

Fine display of indie bests.  Apologies for the blur.  

Inkwood staff picks display.  

Some very clever magnets.  

New releases non-fiction display.  

Strategically placed chair near the check out counter for when you have to wait for customers with big book purchases.  

I love the unique socks you can find in some independent bookstores.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

An assortment of sidelines and gift ideas.  

If your friend or family member is a Dr. Who fan, this is a must.  

Some of the cooking and food books available but best of all is how they're arranged and displayed on this beautiful piece of furniture.  Well done!

You can enjoy a book seated here...

...while your child enjoys THEIR book here!

There is a great kids section beyond this sign.  

A partial view of the children's section.  

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

Many indies develop deep ties within their communities including social causes and Inkwood does the same.  

Keep up to date with the events calendar.  

Book scented candles, the best.  

With Julie, the fine owner at Inkwood Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Narberth Bookshop - Narberth, PA

Narberth Bookshop, Narberth, PA
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

If you were going to start your own football team, who would you pick to be the quarterback?  Tom Brady?  Aaron Rodgers?  No doubt you would want the best.  That's exactly what has happened at the Narberth Bookshop in Narberth, PA.  A woman who honed her bookstore craft at one of the country's finest, Three Lives Bookstore in NYC, finally decided to take the plunge and open her own.  She's extremely knowledgeable about the business and her eyes are wide open about the pitfalls.  But if anyone is qualified to own and operate a successful bookstore it's this woman, Ellen T.  Narberth Books is part of a wave of new indies opening all over the country and like the other newbies I've visited, they're off to a great start.

How great a start, you ask?  The store has only been open 8 months and the holidays were phenomenal in terms of business.  But this was no accident since Ellen knew exactly where she wanted to open a bookstore, in Narberth and in the downtown area.  An attractive location for a community surrounded by colleges and a citizenry made up of many cultured and literary people.  The newness of the store makes it unknown to many people, even in the nearby region.  But the word will get out about how nice this place is and business and the customers follow.  

The Narberth Bookshop offers all new books, densely but neatly packed into less than 1000 square feet.  Greeting cards are really the only sideline of note here.  This is a serious bookstore and it is serious about the books.  Ellen's experience means that the store is very well curated with a great inventory.  The bookshelves are a beautiful dark brown wood and all were custom made for the store.  The interior paint and designs are outstanding and you can tell that a lot of thought and work went into this space.  Ellen is a self-proclaimed neatnik and it shows in the organization of this store.

The tiny store was very busy on the day of my visit and yet Ellen took time to tell me so much about her store, business, and experiences.  She, along with Julia and Jenny, two of the booksellers, are one of the reasons I visit these places.  Great people in a great store.

So this place is new and some of you in the area haven't checked it out yet.  What gives?  What are you waiting for?  You're fortunate to have this gem in your midst so plan to take a trip to the Narberth Bookshop.  It will be the first of many visits.  The future is bright here and you don't want to be late to the party.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Freddy Goes To Florida, Walter R. Brooks.  Freddy is a pig who lives on Mr. Bean's farm and he along with some of the other animals decide they're tired of the cold winters and want to go to Florida for the winter.  The story tells of their adventures going and then returning to the farm.  They encounter robbers and alligators as part of their adventure.  The Freddy series consists of 20+ books written from the 1920s-50s by the same author who wrote short stories that became the inspiration for the Mr. Ed television show.  Great reading for ages 9-90.  I'll be looking for more Freddy books.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Bottoms, Joe R. Lansdale.  

Another great exterior view.  

This old clock is on the corner near the bookstore.  When you see this, you'll know you're close.  

This is a great exterior window display.  All books, all faced out.  This place is serious about books.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Shrewd readers may recognize the celebrity in purple.  Yes, that's my mom.  

A fine assortment of greeting cards located near the front entrance.  

On the backside of the exterior window display is another display on the inside of the store, all covers facing out.  

If you're in the Narberth area, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this.  Every indie should craft something similar that would work for their store.  Shop local!

Ellen and her staff put a lot of time into the store's interior, including a great quote creatively displayed.  

A portion of the children's section.  

Another example of the great artistic work that helps give the store such a great atmosphere.  

More creative interior art work.  

A few of the staff picks displayed on a door.  

A great place to sit and sample a book that you can get and then purchase a tote bag for all your others! 

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

View of a long wall of bookshelves.  

Find the newly released paperback version of MY BOOKSTORE.  

What wonderful people I get to meet on this journey.  L-R: yours truly, Ellen, Ron Rice, Ron's son Jake.  Thanks for a great visit.