Saturday, June 30, 2018

Gathering Volumes - Perrysburg, OH

Gathering Volumes, Perrysburg, OH
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How does a person with a background in IT, with a solid job and a good salary, and no bookstore experience, end up owning a bookstore?  A person with a life-long love of reading and a desire to follow her passion.  Denise, along with husband Brian, own Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg, OH and her passion crossed paths with mine, sorta.  My journey and inspiration began by visiting every bookstore featured in My Bookstore, by Ron Rice.  Denise's inspiration began after visiting one of those featured indies, McLean & Eakins in Petoskey, MI.  After lots of help from numerous bookstore owners (a familiar story), Gathering Volumes launched two years ago and the rest is history, so far so good.

Part of the key to success for Gathering Volumes is this is pretty much the only indie in northwest Ohio.  The store has a good group of regular AND grateful customers, many who drive here from nearby communities like Bowling Green.  The other key is the numerous things that Denise does to bring people into the store.  On the day of my visit, she was hosting a group of kids for an electricity class.  There is also a class in potions, which is very popular.  The store hosts birthday parties and one of my favorite things that Denise does is create a "registry" of books the birthday boy/girl wants and when parents of guest children invited to the party ask what to get, they can check this.  There are also multiple book clubs and author events featuring local and Ohio authors.  The store has also done a book fair at the local Montessori school, a great target audience for books.

The store offers a fine inventory of new and used books and Denise has really zeroed in on the genres her customers prefer.  She is going to be adding more bookshelves soon to display more used inventory.  If you can't make it into the store, visit the Gathering Volumes website and shop there for new or used books.  The one-level store offers a variety of sidelines and the puzzles are really starting to sell well.

Denise was wonderful to meet and an absolute wealth of knowledge about books and bookstores.  She is EXACTLY the reason you need to visit an independent bookstore, especially Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg.  You'll have the kind of terrific experience you can't get online.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Florida, Lauren Groff.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Black Mad Wheel, Josh Malerman.  The Rules Of Half, Jenna Patrick.

One of the window displays.  

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

It's Waldo season in many independent bookstores including Gathering Volumes.  Get to the store and find Waldo!

I think this is a great promotion.  

The book and movie bundle display.

Display of some of the books recognized in The Great American Read.  

A few of the books of local interest by local authors.  

Many indies carry originally crafted items by local artisans.  I thought these necklaces were not only unique but great.  

Look around the walls of the store and you'll see some super art work for sale by local artists.

The long wall of books.  

This store features book recommendation shelf-talkers by kids, a great idea.  

There's lots to "gather" in on this chalk board behind the check out counter.  

Locally produced coffee sold here.  

Find this table if you're on a budget.  

Find this table if you want signed copies.  

Neat display of new releases.  

You can find locally created art work all around the store.  

If you're a Brown's fan and don't know who this is, you need this book.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

A great place to sit and try a book.  This picture will soon be outdated because Denise will be adding some bookshelves on this wall.  

This was the site of the electricity class when I arrived.  

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

A couple of little seats for a couple of little readers.  This store does a great job of catering to children.  

With Denise, the fine owner at Gathering Volumes.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Boneshaker Books - Minneapolis, MN

Boneshaker Books, Minneapolis, MN
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Every independent bookstore I've visited on this journey has been nothing less than welcoming, not only to me but people off all stripes, beliefs, ethnicities, and genders.  This is something generally accepted and encouraged at indies, some even make a point of mentioning it in a door or display window.  But here at Boneshaker Books they wear their heart on their sleeve in such a transparent manner that it leaves no doubt that ALL are welcome here.

Just like people, bookstores come in all varieties and this is another variety of independent bookstore.  I would define this store as an alternative/politically left niche indie.  A store that offers new and used books by diverse authors and subject matter that you don't always see in the other bookstores.  They also have an excellent assortment of zines, self-published collections of comics, art, social commentary, and more.  These are great creative outlets for local authors and artists.  And if these offerings don't interest you, they also carry books that can be found in any other bookstore.  The store has a few unique greeting cards, journals, and buttons, most created locally, but other than that its mostly about the books.

What sets this store apart from other operations is its organization and structure.  It is completely non-profit and run totally by volunteers, over 30 of them.  There is no store manager or owner.  Decisions are made by committee or sometimes by those who have been involved with the store the longest.  The store is a beacon to the community it is located in, the Seward neighborhood, and has been in this space and in business for about 7 years.  Occasionally, they'll have fund raisers to help generate a little more revenue.  Its non-profit status is meant to be a benefit for the neighborhood it's in.  When you see it and its location, it has the feel of a true neighborhood bookstore.  What they make in their sales is what they use to buy more books.

I met three of Boneshaker's fine volunteers, Jacquie, Peter, and Kat, during my visit.  They really helped me to understand the store's mission and everything else that goes on including various events they host, and bookclubs, just like all other indies.

So if you're in the Twin Cities and want to support a good cause, go to Boneshaker Books and purchase a book.  Or heck, maybe even sign-up to volunteer, also a good cause.  Be part of the solution, not part of the problem .  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Good Nurse, Charles Graeber.  If you like page-turning thrillers that are true stories, this is your book.  A mild-mannered nurse starts doping IV bags on patients in hospitals which causes many deaths in many hospitals.  The media dubbed him the "Angel Of Death."  A very tough crime to collect evidence, arrest, and convict.  An absolutely chilling story.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Florida, Lauren Groff.

The building that houses Boneshaker Books.  

The main entrance and the posted well wishes to the Muslim community.  

Just inside the entrance before entering the store is a great community and events space.  

An empathetic sentiment.  

A magnetic message board just inside the entrance.  Post an opinion!  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Alert readers may notice the celebrity browsing the front table display.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Just inside the entrance you'll find some unique greeting cards.  

One of the greeting cards available.  No matter where you live, consider sending your political representative a message.  

A relevant display for LGBTQ month.  

Table display of books by women of color.  

A portion of the books available by local authors.  

Find out what the Boneshaker Book Club is reading.  

Ask about the skeleton crew.  

Toward the back of the store you'll find used books at great prices and for a good cause.  

Find a button to express yourself.  

A portion of the children's section.  

Another view of the children's section.  

An overview of the store from the back looking toward the front entrance.  

I would love to do this.  

Nice table display of new releases.  

From L-R, Yours truly, Kat with Lawrence, Jacquie, and Peter, some of the fine folks you'll meet at Boneshaker Books,  Thanks for a great visit.  

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Bookstore At Fitger's - Duluth, MN

The Bookstore At Fitger's, Duluth, MN
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One of the best things about this bookstore is that it's located in independent business heaven.  It is in the historic Fitger Brewing Co building near downtown Duluth.  The building is now a hotbed of several independent businesses including a hotel, The Boat Club restaurant, and a variety of retail offerings.  It seems very upscale so my concern for the bookstore was if they were able to meet the lease and stay in their great location.  I'm happy to say that this is not a problem thanks to the owner of the building who ONLY leases out space to independent businesses, no chains.  An understanding of "buy local, shop local" is in place with an owner who supports this trend.  Way to go, Fitger's!
History is everywhere in this building.  

Even though the "buy local, shop local" theme is strong here, tourists are a very important part of The Bookstore's business.  These customers will certainly find a store devoted to meeting their preferences.  The store offers all new books but also has a wide variety of sidelines that tourists will find appealing.  Everything from touristy postcards to unique snow globes with local scenes.  There are also many books of regional and local interest by local authors.  You'll find items that are offered in other indies such as greeting cards, book themed socks, (selling well!), Fitger's clothing and gear, and a large selection of candy.  This 3-room store has one room devoted entirely to children and I thought it was especially good.  Children's books of all kinds and children's sidelines of all kinds.  Kids will love this room.  The store's business can be challenging in the winter months but the holiday season brings in large numbers of tourists who really give the store a boost.

The store is a veteran; its been here for 25-30 years and as Jennifer J., the store manager told me, things are phenomenal.  Yet another testimony that I've heard repeatedly on my travels about the success and resurgence of independent bookstores.

Everyone I meet along my journey is simply the best and it is no different at The Bookstore At Fitger's.  Jennifer along with Anna and Amanda were terrific to meet and visit with.  I can see why tourists flock to this place with people like these.  

I think Duluth is a great town with a lot to offer and I enjoyed my time here.  Consider a trip here when planning your next vacation and pay a visit to all the fine businesses in the Fitger Building.  Make sure The Bookstore At Fitger's is one of your stops.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Wright Brothers, David McCullough.  Historical accounting of the Wright brothers and the birth of our country's pursuit of air travel.  Thoroughly researched, and includes all the challenges, the involvement of the family, and overcoming the ridicule of a skeptical public.  I loved this book, very informative and interesting.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Good Nurse, Charles Graeber.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Tangerine, Christine Mangan.  

Exterior of the beautiful and historic Fitger's building, the former brewery of Fitger's beer is now a thriving retail center.  And they still brew beer.  

Fitger's Beer.  

Enter here and proceed downstairs to the bookstore.  

Another view of the historic building.  

The bookstore is located on the lower level.  

One of the expansive display windows. 

Before entering you can browse some bargains on this rack.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the right from the front entrance.  This room to the right is loaded with items for kids.  

Looking to the left from the front entrance.  

A very nice variety of tote bags and backpacks.  

The store offers lots of puzzles and these are just a few.  

Tourists will want to choose from a variety of Fitgers and Duluth postcards.  

A nice wall display of staff picks.  

A great section for tourists visiting the Duluth area.  

The candy at the check-out counter will go nicely with the book that you get.  

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

These neatly arranged beanie babies mark the entrance into the children's room.  

Head to the right after entering the store and you'll find this room, the children's section.  

Kids will find lots of books they'll like.  

Find this display of recent releases in the room to the left.  

This room to the left of the front entrance has books and lots of Fitger's swag.  

A fine assortment of magazines.  

A great selection of greeting cards in the room to the left.  

Some really nice Fitger's wear.  

An overview of the room to the left of the main entrance.  

With Anna on the left and Jennifer on the right, two of the fine folks you'll meet at The Bookstore At Fitger's.  Thanks for a great visit.