Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Book Store - Appleton, WI

The Book Store, Appleton, WI 
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As excited as I am to hear about new bookstores opening and then seeing them, I'm equally excited about seeing long-running bookstores that have survived and overcome the many challenges that have sunk so many others.  These "survivors" need to be recognized, acknowledged, and celebrated.  The Book Store in Appleton has been at it since 1976 and owner Kalan B. is just the 3rd owner in its run.  Laura, one of the booksellers here was the 2nd owner and the founding owner was her mother.  Obviously, the store has had great ownership to make it this far and after talking to Laura and Gail, another bookseller, I know that the store is positioned well for a bright future with Kalan.

This store has a great vibe.  It comes from the books, the store, its story, and always the people.  Thanks to Laura and Gail, I felt like I met Kalan even though she wasn't here this day.  The Book Store offers mostly used books with some new.  Customers receive store credit for the books they bring in.  After a lot of work and a long period of time, the store has every book on a data base.  Nice work Kalan and staff!  The store has a few sidelines, several of which are created by local artisans.  Laura and Gail told me this is one of the areas Kalan hopes to expand, locally created art.  Under Kalan's ownership, the store now offers books for sale online.  Laura and Gail gave me an overwhelming endorsement of Kalan and all that she has brought to the store in her year and a half of ownership.  This includes all the creative and original decor throughout the store and even the assembly of bookshelves.  

One of the things they do here that has been very successful is book rentals.  Books available for rent are all hardback new release and bestsellers.  When the book is released in paperback, it is no longer available as a rental.  As Laura told me, for people who don't want to buy a hardback, don't have a library, or don't want to wait for a book on hold, this is great.  Very few indies offer this and I think it could be successful in some communities.

Gail told me the store has a rabid local customer base and I can see why.  They also are seeing 2nd and 3rd generations of regulars.  If you're one of those regulars, introduce a friend to this wonderful bookstore.  There's no doubt to me that this is an Appleton legend.  A great bookstore with fantastic people, the independent bookstore norm.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Little Faith, Nickolas Butler.  I've read two of this author's books and have enjoyed them both.  If you need murders, rapes, missing people, drugs, and all sorts of mayhem, this book will disappoint you.  If you want to read about a Wisconsin couple with some tension about their adult daughter who falls to a cult, placing their grandchild in jeopardy, then you'll like this.  Of course, there is MUCH more to this novel than this.  Very readable and very comfortably midwestern in theme.  I really liked this one.  Recommended.  

CURRENLTY READING:  Gun Love, Jennifer Clement.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Deal Breaker, Harlan Coben.  Six Years, Harlan Coben.

If your indie is located in a strip with many businesses, a banner like this is a huge help for first-time customers.  

Spacious front display window.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the right from the front entrance. 

Attractive display in the front of the store.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  This is the area that offers book rentals.  New releases in hardback at a very reasonable rental price.  Tired of waiting on the reserved book at the library?  Consider this option.   

Grab one of those rentals and plop down here to give it a try.  

I love the check-out counter decorated with the book covers.  You'll find Kalan's artistic touch throughout the store.  

Just a few of the items of local and regional interest.  

A long look through the store and one of the book aisles.  

This bargain is in the front of the store's space.  

Lots of book nooks like this and many with a chair so you can actually sit and take your time with a book.  I love this.  

I would strongly encourage romance fans to visit this store.  

Partial view into the children's section.  

View into the children's section.  

This body cut-out is a tip as to what genre books you'll find here.  Gardening?  No.  Photography?  No.  Animals?  No.  Mysteries?  YES!

Hello Mark Twain.  A nice touch of decor.  

In independent bookstores, an exit door can become your canvas.  

Partial view of a beautifully decorated restroom.  

More restroom art.  

I didn't see this on Amazon.  

Here you go Outlander fans!

An example of some of the great book art in the store by Kalan.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

More locally created art.  

Most indies have a community advocacy component.  

Book Lover's Soy Candles, something I've seen in other bookstores as well.  

With Gail on the left and Laura on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at The Book Store.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Thomas A. Lyons Fine Books - Neenah, WI

Thomas A. Lyons Fine Books, Neenah, WI
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One of my goals for this write-up is to clear up a misconception that some community members have about this bookstore.  The official name of this indie is Thomas A. Lyons Fine Books.  "Fine," does not mean exquisite, expensive, or "do not touch."  People, this isn't Corinthian leather, it's a bookstore.  Go, look, browse, and TOUCH.  To further dispel any confusion, just call it Lyon's Books.  But honestly, I do think all the books here are absolutely fine!

Lyons Books has been around for about 6 years but has been in its 2nd and current location for the last 6 months.  The move to the new location has been a big improvement for visibility and business.  The attractive store front is on the very busy Wisconsin Ave surrounded by other small businesses in downtown Neenah.  Meredith, Tom's daughter, said that people are still discovering the store after 6 years.  No sooner had she told me that than a local customer came in and said he didn't know this bookstore was here.

This one-level indie offers new, used, and collectible books in a perfectly comfortable space with lots of great places to sit and read.  The beautiful wooden bookshelves are a replication of the ones in Faulkner House Books in New Orleans.  Customers can receive cash for their books that the store agrees to take.  I think their inventory of collectibles is pretty good and I would encourage collectors to purchase in store or online.  They also offer some sidelines including greeting cards, soy bookstore candles, and journals.  Like many other bookstores they're still trying to figure out what sidelines are best to offer.  Their price ranges can fit any budget with books from $5 - $15,000.  Keep in mind that what you're seeing here is the tip of the iceberg.  There's a storage space downstairs and also a houseful of books stored at Tom's home.  

Most interesting to me is that the store also offers books for sale in Savannah, GA, using a portion of the space at E. Shavers Books.  Meredith said that items that may not sell in Wisconsin will sell in Georgia.  A great way to acquire diversity of customers if you can do it.

I didn't get to meet Tom on this visit but Meredith was super to meet and talk to.  Neenah, I suggest you do the same thing I did.  Visit Lyons Books and enjoy a great experience in a bookstore that you all need to see.  The kind of store that is needed in every community.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu.  The author immigrated to America from Ethiopia and this is a work of fiction about the African immigration experience of a small business owner.  The challenges of running a failing convenience store in a bad neighborhood of Washington DC.  Story of relationships with other immigrants and a white woman with a bi-racial daughter in the neighborhood.  Although fiction, this might give you some insight into what immigrants go through.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Little Faith, Nickolas Butler.  

Another view of the exterior.  

Very spacious front display window.  

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

Lots of great places to sit throughout the store and try out books.  

Some super book art in the front window.  

There are a few sidelines.  

Many indies carry these unique bookstore soy candles.  

Some of the greeting cards available.  

Partial view of the children's area.  

Nice display of recent bestsellers.  

Find the bestsellers right in the middle of the store.  

Have a seat and sample a book.  

Near the front of the store is this display case featuring some collectible editions.  

If you're a Zane Grey fan, you need to visit this store.  

ALWAYS consider this option in any indie.  

Not only lots of great places to sit, but great COMFY places to sit.  

A few of the items of local and regional interest.  

If you're on a budget, find this table.  

It's baseball season and this is the section where you can improve your game!

Yeah, if I sit here you might need to wake me when the store closes!

A very cool lion head keeps an eye on the store.  

Some of the collectible editions can be found in this case near the back of the store.  

Overview of the store looking from the back toward the front entrance.  Very attractive space.  

With Meredith, one of the fine folks you'll meet at Thomas A. Lyons Fine Books.  Thanks for a great visit.