Monday, January 29, 2018

Commonplace Books - Oklahoma City, OK

Commonplace Books, Oklahoma City, OK
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I continue to see fantastic, newly opened indies wherever I travel and this is another.  The two words that hit me when I walked in were "hip" and "modern."  This 9-month old indie would look perfectly at home in Brooklyn, NY but here it was in mid-town Oklahoma City.  What does that mean?  It means the readers that frequent indies are hip no matter where they're located.

It was clear to me that Commonplace Books has the perfect location surrounded by many like-minded businesses (with more to come) and downtown living space.  The store has done very well in its short existence with lots of walk-in foot traffic from nearby residents as well as out-of-towners.  The store offers all new books with a very small number of sidelines.  I thought the art books, coffee table books, and political books were especially strong.  They also have a nice children's section and offer a weekly story time, a great event for all indies who can do this.  They do very few author events and as Ben N., one of the 4 co-owners told me, they don't feel compelled to force this or a need to "win" anything with events.  He said they're more likely to host live music events as any other.

The big news here is a store expansion of 1000 square feet that will offer a cafe with breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer, wine, and coffee.  I always think this is a great thing for the indies that can do it.  The scheduled opening is for April 2018 and I think it will have a huge positive impact on the business.  

Thank you Boz for this action photo at Commonplace (he was on break from bookselling)!
Regular readers know that I'm a softie for bookstore dogs and they have the gentlest teddy bear here, Boz, a white lab.  But you know what I liked best about Boz?  I didn't have to chase him all over the g d store to pet him!  He will be a willing recipient when you visit him here.  

Ben and his staff couldn't have been nicer to meet and talk to.  Wonderful people who took time to visit with me and tell me about the store, the neighborhood, and of course book talk.

Bright new bookstores continue to jump out at me.  This one is beautifully arranged, lots of decorative plants, comfortable furniture, a future cafe, and a dog.  Hey, Oklahoma City, what more could you want?  Check it out and enjoy the hip vibe with the terrific people you'll meet here.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  One Of The Lucky Ones, Brenda Hancock.  Author's biography of her mother who grew up in occupied France and joined the Resistance in WWII.  Some of her relatives escaped the concentration camps and some did not but Nicole Holland escaped, survived, and adapted after the war to a new country, new friends, new family, and a new language.  This book is a story of triumph.  Recommended.  

CURRENLTY READING:  The Shipping News, Annie Proux.  

Another exterior view.  

Great window space and also great outdoor seating during nice weather.  

There are two entrances to the store, one into the main part of the store and this one into the children's section.  Go in either entrance!

Before you go into the store you can start your browsing outside.  

This picture of Boz was how I first saw him.  Underneath a table display in the children's section.  

View looking into the store and slightly to the right from the main entrance.  Notice the attractive plants, the lighting, and the very neat table displays.  

A great place to meet and gather.  

Entering the store and looking to the left across the store.  Lots of nice plants here.  Careful readers may notice the celebrity seated in the center.  Yes, that's my mom.  

I don't know if I've seen a bigger couch than this one in a bookstore.  I definitely could stretch on this one with a book and NOT have to bend my knees!  

There is lots of art displayed throughout the store, all by local artists and it is available for purchase.  

A partial view of the children's section and one of the fine table displays.  

The plants all around the store's space really added a lot.  

Another view of the children's section.  

This inspirational wall separates the store's customer space with the conference space for groups or staff.  

This is the conference and/or staff space.  You can also use this table to sit down and look at one of the large art books or coffee table books.  

Another view of the staff space.  They'll also open up new boxes of books here.  

With Ben on the left, one of the fine owners at Commonplace Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Friday, January 26, 2018

Magic City Books - Tulsa, OK

Magic City Books, Tulsa, OK
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This is a new bookstore and it is positioned perfectly for big things and a bright future.  Magic City Books is located in the arts district of downtown Tulsa.  The area is on the brink of additional residential, retail, and a brand new Holiday Inn Express being built diagonally from the store's corner location.  Everything is lining up wonderfully for a long, successful run.  This store seems to have everything going for it and it has only been open for a few months, since November 2017.  I'm happy to say that this is a trend, these newly opened bookstores.  And when they opened this one, they definitely did it right.

The store is a one-level space offering all new books and a few sidelines.  You'll be struck by the store's attractive interior when you enter and the brightness of the space with all of its large windows allowing lots of natural light.  Everything about this store is attractive from its beautiful light fixtures and ceiling to its neatly arranged shelving and table displays.  I thought its in-store events space in the back of the store was one of the nicest I've seen.  Beautiful in every way, congrats to the design team.  They also have a nice cafe and a seating area right in the front of the store.  Order your coffee, beer, wine, and pastry on the left and then have a seat on the right.

All indies I visit have a component of community involvement but this store lives that component.  The store is a non-profit backed by the Tulsa Literary Coalition that funds a myriad of social causes in the community but especially supports literacy programs.  Everything purchased goes back to that organization, a great cause.  If you want to use the meeting space, the rent you pay goes back to the Tulsa Literary Coalition.  Coffee, books, reading glasses, magazines and even the $1 gift wrapping charge all go to a great cause.

Unlike other bookstore visits, there wasn't a true owner for me to meet.  So I met Kari B., one of the staffers, and her enthusiasm about the store and its cause were obvious.  I'm pretty sure everyone that works here has that same spirit since Kari told me they were overwhelmed with applications when the store opened.

This place is a keeper.  Since it's a newbie it's still waiting for more of you to discover it.  So hop to it, Tulsa.  You're going to have a great time AND support a worthy cause.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Black Elk Speaks, John G. Neihardt.  If you're into Native American history and spirituality, this is a must read.  First published in 1932, the author visited the holy man of the Oglala Lakota Sioux and documented all that he told him about his life, his visions, and his people's ways.  This is a documented religious classic of a culture.  It's the kind of book that needs to be read more than once to absorb all that it reveals.  Recommended.    

CURRENLTY READING:  One Of The Lucky Ones, Brenda Hancock.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  We Were The Lucky Ones, Georgia Hunter.  A Magic City Books t-shirt.

A great front window with a great quote.  Notice also the ramp sloping up from right to left toward the front entrance allowing easy access to people with disabilities.  

The store has lots of window space for display and this allows the interior to be very bright and cheery.  

Once you go through these doors, don't plan on leaving for awhile.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Alert readers may recognize the celebrity checking out a book.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  This is a beautiful seating area.  Also, again notice all the window space.  

Looking to the left from the front entrance.  This is where you'll order a drink and a pastry.  

Just to the right of the cafe counter are these attractive displays.  

Beer connoisseurs will want to consider one of these.  

A better look at the staff picks display right by the cafe counter.  

Lots of magazines available.  

Lots of Magic City swag sidelines available behind the check-out counter.  

All of the table displays are neatly organized.  

This aisle is a portion of the children's section, a section that is doing very well for the store.  

One of the book nooks.  

Have you ever read any P. G. Wodehouse?  An early 20th century British author and you can get a compiled set here.  

 Check out the YA books in the rear left of the store.  

Or go to the rear right of the store for home and garden or cookbooks.  

View looking into the store's events space.  This is a beautiful room.  

Another view of the events room.  

Bring your bookclub to the store.  

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

A picture showing the width of the store.  

I think the light fixtures and ceiling are terrific.  Scroll back up this article for better looks in other pictures.  

With Kari, one of the fine booksellers you'll meet at Magic City Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Monday, January 22, 2018

Nightbird Books - Fayetteville, AR

Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, AR
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The experience I enjoyed at Nightbird Books will probably go down as one of the highlights of my entire journey.  If I were shopping for books on Amazon, this never would've happened.  I've had lots of wonderful experiences in stores with other people I bump into and that's what happened here.  The store was hosting a knitting club of women who were meeting in the fiction room.  One of them spoke right up when she saw me looking around.

Everyone should get to meet Brenda Hancock and have a conversation with her.  Thanks Brenda.
"What are you looking for?"  I shrugged, not sure.  She wasn't shy at all with her response.  
"Well, I don't work here but I'll tell you where to start.  Go over there to biography and get one of my books, I have two.  One of them is about my mother."  What the?!  She proceeded to tell me about her mother who was a member of the French Underground during WWII.  Eventually she moved to America and the lady I met was her daughter who wrote her story entitled, One Of The Lucky Ones.  And if that doesn't get your attention maybe this will.  I'm sure all of you know Robert Clary, right?  Sure you do.  You just know him as Louie LeBeau from Hogan's Heroes.  He was the brother of the woman in the French Underground and the uncle of the woman I met.  So this woman I met, Brenda Hancock, is the author of two books and if I hadn't visited Nightbird Books I never would've had this opportunity.  Thank you Nightbird and all independent bookstores.

Nightbird has been in business for almost 12 years and is located on Dickson St., a very busy thoroughfare in Fayetteville.  It is surrounded by many other independent businesses making it a great location.  The one-level store offers all new books, a small cafe service, and very few sidelines.  As Lisa S., the owner told me, things are going reasonably well with just the books.  This along with the 12 years in business, is a great sign.  They enjoy lots of local regular customers and offer a frequent buyer incentive, something I wish all indies would do.  They get some of their best business from events held in the store and also at the library where they're able to provide books for purchase.  The store has a nice space that offers a good place for book clubs, writers clubs, and of course, knitting clubs.  

Readers, I'm telling you these bookstore people are the best.  Lisa, along with two of the booksellers Jenny and Joel, are terrific.  These people along with customers like the 5 ladies in the knitting club, make my visits unforgettable.  

So don't hesitate to take a visit to this independent bookstore.  And if you see a group of knitters there, run, don't walk, and strike up a conversation you will never forget.  Only at an indepdenet bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Black Elk Speaks, John G. Neihardt.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  One Of The Lucky Ones, Brenda Hancock.  Talent Luck Courage, Brenda Hancock.

I saw this sign on Dickson St. and knew I was on the right track.  The store sits back from the street a little bit.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Check out the best seller display near the front of the room.  

A partial view of the children's section to the left of the front entrance.   

Two great places to sit in the children's area.  Astute readers may recognize the celebrity spotted here.  Yes, that's my mom.  

This was a perfectly delightful group of ladies enjoying their knitting club in a room full of fiction.  I felt a little intimidated by this group at first because they looked serious about their work and I didn't want to interrupt their meeting while browsing books.  But that didn't last long.  I had a great time talking to this group and if you visit the store and they're here, stop in and say hello.    

Display of recent releases and recent popular books.  

Books recommended by Nightbird and local authors.  

This is a bird aviary.  

No books up these stairs.  Heating and air conditioning, maintenance workers only.  

An important book for fans of college football history and the Razorbacks.  

Grab a coffee, a table, and sample a book.  

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

A great group of people to help you on your visit to Nightbird.  From L-R, Jenny, Joel, Lisa, and myself.  Thanks for a great visit.