Monday, August 26, 2019

The Book Oasis - Stoneham, MA

The Book Oasis, Stoneham, MA
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Ever vigilant outside the store, say hello to Sir Bibli O'Knight. 
The mascots I've met in bookstores across the country are almost too numerous to mention.  Of course there are the usual dogs and cats but then you have ferrets, fish, stuffed penguins, chickens, and these are just the ones that come to mind.  As you might expect, this visit revealed to me a new mascot that I can't imagine finding anywhere else (readers, let me know if you've seen this elsewhere).  Here at The Book Oasis you'll meet Sir Bibli O' Knight, a full suit of armor who stands guard at the entrance and will silently greet you when you enter.  Sir Bibli O'Knight is so popular that people have asked to buy him.  As Dan and Deb told me, they keep looking for more suits of armor because they know it would sell.  

Husband/wife owners Dan and Deb S. have been in business now for 17 years, 15 of those in their current location.  But as Dan told me, you can go back further than that if you count the many years they sold books at flea markets.  The current location is a one-level, very well-organized store that offers new and used books along with some vintage and collectibles.  The customers who bring books in receive store credit in return.  They have a few sidelines including the recently added jigsaw puzzles that are doing well and greeting cards to name a few.  I thought the sidelines for kids were especially good with games, toys, and other various items.  I'm very encouraged to hear that The Book Oasis recently had its best year ever and Dan agreed that bookstores in general are trending upward and more people are understanding the importance of buy local, shop local.  The business is supplemented by numerous book fairs held at nearby schools, a super benefit for indies that can do this.  When you visit here you'll enjoy seeing no shortage of inventory.  And what you can't find might be available in their spacious basement storage area.  As Dan told me, they truly do have about 30,000 books.  

The Book Oasis is definitely a neighborhood bookstore, patronized by a large group of regular customers for many years.  I think any bookstore is an "oasis" but Dan decided to name it this after moving from Boston to the suburbs years ago and noticing that there was only one bookstore per town.  I think every town should have a "book oasis" and luckily for the folks in Stoneham and surrounding communities, they have a great one.  Stop in and say hello to Sir Bibi O'Knight and his terrific owners Dan and Deb, you'll have a great time.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Neverwhere, Neail Gaiman.  I've tried this author before and just couldn't get into his stuff.  A bookseller on my journey suggested this one as one that might work and it did.  I guess this would be classified as "fantasy", something I don't usually read but this one was ok.  Kind of an Alice In Wonderland sort of tale about two different worlds, London above and London below.  London above is the world we know but London below is filled with all sorts of characters, mostly evil.  Richard Mayhew is from London above but ends up in London below and spends his time there helping others and trying to return to his London above.  I liked this one and if you haven't read Neil Gaiman, consider giving this a try.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Filthy Rich, James Patterson.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Don't Make Me Pull Over!, Richard Ratay.  Freddy And Simon The Dictator, Walter R. Brooks.  Freddy Goes Camping, Walter R. Brooks.

A slogan for all independent bookstores.  


Grab a book for your next stay-cation. 

Another view of the storefront.  

One of the display windows.  

Lots of window display space.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  There's much more to the left as well as in the room you can see in the back of this picture.  

A thank you note from school children for a Book Oasis book fair.  This makes The Book Oasis a beloved community member.  Nothing better than thank you's like this one.  

Just a few of the games available.  

Those of you following my journey at home and using tacks to mark my visits, here's where you place your tack for The Book Oasis.  

You'll need a tote for the books you'll buy.  

Just a few of the greeting cards available.  

Display of books with movie or TV adaptations (get the book, it's better).

One of the book aisles.  This is in the front room to the left of the main room.  I love the checker board tile throughout the store.  

In case there was any doubt about what you would find here.  

Great assortment of large print books, located near the front of the store.  

Great place to sit and sample a book.  

A long book aisle to the left in the store.  

Shakespeare fans should snag this 8 volume set.  

Jigsaw puzzles have been selling well.  Find them here.  

Yes!  Keep it up, Stoneham!

Partial overview of the room to the left in the store.  

The store offers a line of Melissa & Doug items.  

View into the back room that offers non-fiction.  

Another view of the non-fiction room and a great place to get comfy with a book.  

A worthy community cause opportunity through The Book Oasis.  

The store offers books needed at some of the local schools.  

Dan showed me this used book that came into the store that had a very well-crafted secret compartment.  I wonder what was kept hidden in here?

Red Sox fans might want to check out this vintage souvenir.  

Overview of the store looking from the back near the non-fiction room toward the front entrance.  Some readers might recognize TIBS staffer Michelle T.  
Like other indies I visit, this one is an award-winner.  

With Deb on the left and Dan in the middle, the fine co-owners at The Book Oasis.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Monday, August 19, 2019

Whitelam Books - Reading, MA

Whitelam Books, Reading, MA
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Rarely when I visit a bookstore have I previously met the owner.  This continues to be true after my visit to Whitelam Books in Reading (pronounced REDing, not REEDing).  Yet, with this visit I really felt like I had already met owner Liz W.  I knew that she had occasionally followed the blog and I'm always interested if any of the blog followers are from bookstores I haven' t visited.  Thanks to this, Liz knew me before I visited and the excitement was mutual.  It all added up to a great bookstore visit.  

I can't begin to tell you how many bookstores have opened since I began this journey.  This is another of the new wave of indies, less than two years old, opened by an owner with a passion for bookstores from a different background.  Liz's background is in marketing, something that I can tell is already serving her well.  The one-level store has a very fresh feel with attractive lighting fixtures and a nice cozy living room feel around the fireplace.  Whitelam offers all new books and a variety of sidelines.  The greeting cards and quirky socks are especially good sellers.  I thought the children's section was strong with a wide selection of books and an increasing number of games and toys.  With the store's free gift wrapping this place makes a great birthday stop.  I also enjoyed hearing about the strong partnership being forged with the schools.  As an example, Liz was able to offer a pop-up store in the high school library and every English teacher made it a point to bring classes in every period.  I wish every bookstore enjoyed this community support.  The store is able to accommodate up to 50 people for events on-site and has an agreement to provide books for larger events at the library.

Whitelam is located in the center of Reading on Main St., a very visible location and conveniently located next to a bakery and cafe.  It would've been easy to simply name this store, Main St. Books but Liz is creative like all owners and had other ideas.  The logo for Whitelam Books is a white lamb and the bookstore is Liz's last name, Whitelam.  Nice.  

I had a wonderful time meeting Liz and Jane, one of the booksellers.  Again, people like these two are the reasons I don't go to the internet.  If you're in Reading and haven't been to Whitelam yet, check it out.  As Liz told me, once you visit you'll come back again.  I guess that means I'll be returning?!  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard, Paul Collins.  Not purchased but gifted, The President Is Missing T-shirt.  Thanks Liz.  

A beautiful storefront.  

A sparkling display window.  

The store has two great display windows.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Some classic reads on the summer reading display.  

Nice assortment of moleskin journals located near the front of the store.  

View looking to the fiction section on the right hand side of the store.  

Table display of current and recent releases.  

Just a few of the greeting cards available.  

You'll see many of these unique literary-themed soy candles in independent bookstores.  I wonder what the Oxford Library smells like?!

Local students can get their required readings here.  

Socks are always good-sellers.  

This is an excellent artistic mural of the Whitelam logo, right behind the check-out counter.  

I love this setting and think it will be especially cozy in about December.  

The store has a nice variety of greeting cards.  

Magnets to fit every personality and interest.  

Find out what the book clubs are reading.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

Perfect place for a little story time.  

Get some art supplies to go with your books.  

I love these books for babies that are chew proof, rip proof, and yes, drool proof.  

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

A nice, long wall of books.  

A worthwhile cause for the community offered at this bookstore.   

Check out some of the superb local artwork throughout the store.

Kids will love seeing the variety of games.  

Always!  Heck, even if the recipient isn't a reader they'll be able to find something here.  

A  newbie bookstore and already an award-winner.  Way to go, Whitelam!

With Jane on the left and Liz on the right, two of the fine folks you'll meet at Whitelam Books.  Thanks for a great visit.