Friday, April 27, 2018

Park Street Books & Toys - Medfield, MA

Park Street Books & Toys, Medfield, MA
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Many of my teacher friends who have worked in elementary schools would occasionally groan on days when they were required to have indoor recess due to inclimate weather.  On the day of my visit it was like a perfect storm.  Rainy weather AND no school.  It was indoor recess at a bookstore!  As Jill, one of the staffers at the store told me, rainy days are busy here.  But as far as I could tell, rain or shine, things are going great.  An incredible store with three dynamite and knowledgeable people to pull it off and make it magical.

The 10-year old Indie Bob and his sisters would've been begging to visit here as often as possible, just like many of the children in the Medfield area.  Books, toys, and games galore and a little bit of candy on the side.  This is an all-service bookstore that you can visit even if you're not a reader.  Want to create some pottery and paint it?  Visit here.  Maybe do some painting?  Visit here.  Heck, host a children's birthday party here at the store.  The options are only limited by your own imagination.  Obviously, children absolutely love this place.  And grandparents who live elsewhere love it too and can place orders for their Medfield grandkids.

One of my favorite things here are the recommendations.  Not from the staff, but from children of all ages.  Hand-written letters are posted all over the store.  What better recommendations would you need?

This indie is housed in what was once a private residence, almost 100 years old.  They offer new and used books and their inventory is staggering.  Jim J., the owner, told me there are a million books with many stored in the basement or a nearby barn.  Customers are offered store trade for their good used books and can use the credit to purchase used books.  There is also a room upstairs that offers a good assortment of adult books.

The people who work here are truly rock stars, perfectly suited for a children's bookstore.  Jim, Jill, and Katherine are as nice as they come and couldn't have been more welcoming and enthusiastic about my visit to the store.  The business has been going for almost 15 years and it's overdue to receive national recognition and make some top lists for children's bookstores.  This is one of the best of its kind and if you're in New England, grab your kids and grandkids and sprint, don't walk, to this beacon of a children's bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

JUST FINISHED:  Freddy The Pilot, Walter R. Brooks, ill. Kurt Wiese.  From the Freddy The Pig series written in the 1930s-50s.  Freddy the Pig decides he needs to learn how to fly to save the Boomschmidt circus from evil mastermind, Watson P. Condiment who is trying to steal the prize performer.  Naturally, hilarity ensues and all of Mr. Bean's farm animals pitch in to help.  Written for children but adult worthy.  I love every Freddy book I've read.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Exit West, Mohsin Hamid.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Not purchased, but gifted.  Me And My Dragon, David Biedrzycki.  Can I Be Your Dog, Troy Cummings.  Freddy And Mr. Camphor, Walter Brooks, ill. Kurt Wiese.  Park Street t-shirt.  Thanks Jim.    

This sign will really help you locate the store. 

Another exterior view.  Notice the wonderful artwork on the window shutters.  Observant readers may recognize the celebrity sprinting into the store.  Yes, that's my mom.  

This is a really important part of the store and and the business.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Along the stairway wall on the right is a beautiful mural that will not be fully appreciated unless you see it in person.  Outstanding!

Just inside the front entrance and looking left.  I can pretty much see kids go into a trance when they enter here.  

View looking to the left and into the main room on the first floor.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

I don't know if I've ever seen so many ty beanie babies in one store.  

Lots of new toys here but also some old school stuff.  

This is a second room off the main room.   Huge selection of new children's books in this room.   

Display of staff picks and award winners.  

This is the mural in the pottery room.  It was done by a high school sophomore.  

Another part of the pottery room mural with staff favorite books on the branches.  The art work throughout the store is fantastic.    

Some of the pottery work by young artists.  

I didn't get the story about the story door so make sure you ask.  

Kids can come here to learn Spanish.  I think this is great!

Another view of the mural on the way up to the second floor.  

Looking down the hallway of the second floor.  Multiple rooms with books in each.  

The artwork in this store is everywhere, even on the light switches.  

The rooms on the second floor are named after favorite children's authors, like this one after Kate DiCamillo.  

Looking into the Kate DiCamillo room.  

Another upstairs room named after a favorite children's author.  

Recommendations from kids are posted all over the store.  I wish I could show them all.  

Looking into one of the upstairs rooms and the great table display.  

Notes from kids are posted everywhere in the store.  

Find this great assortment of games on the first floor.  


One can never have too many of these!
From left to right, yours truly, Jill, Jim, and Katherine, the rock stars you're going to meet at Park Street Books & Toys.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Newtonville Books - Newton, MA

Newtonville Books, Newton, MA
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Location, location, location.  I've said it before, I'll say it again.  The importance of a good bookstore location cannot be overrated.  Here at Newtonville Books, they seem to have found the sweet spot.  Mary and Jaime, the owners, have had the business for about 10 years but relocated it here in the Newton Town Centre.  It seems to be positioned perfectly in a busy area with other retail and cafes.  They get good foot traffic and there is a very large public parking area right across the street.  In near proximity is Boston College and a little further is Cambridge, an intellectual community that values independent bookstores.  All of these factors mix with a devoted core of regular customers who understand the "buy local, shop local," motto and you have yourself a location that would be the envy of any local business.  

This one-level bookstore has a unique and attractive space offering all new books and a wide variety of sidelines.  The front room has a wonderful display window that allows for lots of natural light.  There are staff recommendations throughout the store, something I always enjoy seeing.  The sidelines include the usual greeting cards (lots of varieties), journals, mints and chocolate, and who could live without Shakespeare Insult Gum.  They also have unique socks that I see in other indies.  Sarah M., one of the booksellers, told me that these sell well.  I was glad to hear from her that business is going well.

Newtonville Books has a very active events schedule and is able to host them in the back of the store.  They also partner with several book clubs, another great way to bring people into the store.  I was especially glad to hear that they have a customer membership club which allows members discounted prices on books.  I wish more indies had customer incentive programs.

I didn't get to meet Mary and Jaime but it was nice to meet Sarah and Nikki, two of the booksellers at Newtonville Books.  They were able to tell me a little about the store and business and did so while customers continued to keep them hopping.  

When you visit the Boston area you're going to have lots of sights on your to-do list.  Now you have one more.  Swing into Newtonville Books and enjoy another one of our country's independent bookstores.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The One Man, Andrew Gross.  Outstanding.  WWII historical fiction about the US trying to sneak a man into a concentration camp to rescue and break out with an esteemed scientist who can help solve the final puzzle of developing a nuclear weapon.  As you can imagine, the challenge and intrigue is unbelievable.  This was a thriller that I could not put down.  One of the best things I've read recently.  Highly recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Freddy The Pilot, Walter R. Brooks, ill. Kurt Wiese.  

This is the impressive historical building where you'll find Newtonville Books, ground level and on the right.      

Exterior view with the entrance underneath the blue sign.  Notice the long display window on the right.  

View from the entrance and looking into the store toward the right.  

Just inside the front door and you can check out the upcoming events or have a seat and sample a book.  

View just inside the front door and to the left.  Terrific display of bookclub books.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Terrific table display in the front room.  That long front window you see to the right really is great for natural lighting.  

Tourists might enjoy picking out some Boston-themed magnets.  

For most indies, socks sell.  Don't get distracted by chocolate bars below the socks.  

Just a few of the items of local and regional interest.  Don't get distracted by the chocolate bars above the books.  

A great staff picks display.  You'll find recommendations throughout the store.  

This is always a great way to utilize some wall space.  

Grade schoolers and middle schoolers will be all over this.  

This is the beautiful check-out counter.  I love the books they used to create this.  

The store has a wide variety of interesting sidelines.  

View into the back room of books.  

A couple of nice places to sit and try out books, or have a disagreement!

A portion of the children's section.  

Some coloring supplies that kids will enjoy.  

Another partial view of the children's section.  

I love these "snarky" dishtowels!

You can always find gems that nobody knows about in small and independent press books.  

Posted in the store, bookclubs...
...and upcoming events.  

This sounds like a good thing.  Not sure I've seen this anywhere yet.  

With Sarah, one of the fine booksellers at Newtonville Books.  Thanks for a great visit.