Friday, September 22, 2017

The Otto Bookstore - Williamsport, PA

Otto Bookstore, Williamsport, PA
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This is another entry that I hope is an encouragement to the many new independent bookstore owners I've met along my journey.  Otto's Bookstore in Williamsport is an example of a bookstore that can endure and sustain in a smallish community (approximately 29,000) for more than just a few years.  This store hasn't been open for decades, it has been open for centuries.  Otto's can trace its bookstore lineage and its founding back to 1841, certainly making it one of the longest continually operating bookstores in the country.  This bears the question, how the heck have they done it?  The answer is simply, Williamsport.

I always recommend to all my readers that they enjoy a visit to the bookstores I visit or any others for that matter.  However, Williamsport is the home of the little league world series which coincided with my visit to Otto's.  If you're an out-of-towner, I would suggest you visit ANY other time!  I was probably the only non-local who wasn't in Williamsport for the little league world series.  But the good news about this annual event is that it brings lots of visitors in town which is always beneficial for Otto's.  These customers along with a strong group of regulars (including, I assume, descendants of regulars) are what help Otto's remain vibrant.  As Alissa, one of the book buyers told me, the community has a very strong tradition of fine arts and performing arts as well as more young families with young children.  These factors and its long business tradition help to keep Otto's successful.  The other keys will sound familiar to other successful indies.  Solid customer service, knowledgeable and friendly staff, and in my opinion, flexibility and adaptability to the times.

The one-level store has a great downtown location and has been in this spot for 27 years.  They offer all new books, a few sidelines, and are currently re-structuring the store under the new ownership with Katie and Isak.  The children's section is especially good and will continue to expand in the future.

Alissa, Nance, one of the booksellers, and the other staffers here are the reason I enjoy indies so much.  These people are fantastic and you will thoroughly enjoy meeting and talking to them.  I would strongly encourage you to visit their website and read about their fascinating history.

If you do find yourself in Williamsport for the little league world series, take a break from the games and visit a place that's been around much longer.  A national bookstore with a storied history.  If you're in the Williamsport area and haven't been to the place yet, for shame!  You're missing out on a great store with great people.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:   Grief Cottage, Gail Godwin.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Not purchased but gifted, thanks Nance!  Grief Cottage, Gail Godwin.

Two of the wonderful display windows.  

Start your bargain shopping before you even enter the store.  

One of the sidewalk window display windows.  

Looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Step to the left after entering and try to keep your heart rate down after this view.   

Out-of-towners will want to find a postcard at this display near the front entrance.  

I see some great recommendations from Alissa on these shelves.  

A nice display and a couple of nice places to sit shortly after you enter the front entrance.  

I love seeing things like this.  A receipt from the bookstore dated 1914.  By this year, the was store already 73 years old.  Remarkable.  For many years, wallpaper was one of the important parts of the business.    

A great sentiment.  

Find these shelves for a few bargains.  

Just a few of the greeting cards available.  

A partial view of the children's section, under remodeling.  It's probable that this area will look different when you visit. Williamsport, to the bookstore, and to the little league world series.  

An overview of the store looking toward the front entrance.  

A nice display of Crane & Co. stationery.  

Always one of my favorite pictures.  

Lots of postcards in book form.

With Nance on the left and Alissa on the right, two of the all-stars you'll meet at the Otto Bookstore.  Make sure you check out their recommended reads.  Thanks for a great visit.  

And of course, they do their best imitation of Indie Bob!

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