Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Irreverent Bookworm - Minneapolis, MN

The Irreverent Bookworm, Minneapolis, MN
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

The fun thing for me when visiting new bookstores is to see the personality of the owners and their ideas for the store.  Obviously, no two are the same and usually when visiting new stores you expect to see, well, new.  That wasn't the plan though for new owners Meg and Donovan N. at The Irreverent Bookworm.  As Meg told me, they were shooting for old, like they'd been around for 30 years.  I felt like the space was very historical with antique furnishings, fixtures, and decor.  And since the building is about 100 years old, that helped too.  So Meg and Donovan have pulled off this wonderfully historical, comfortable bookstore vibe, an experience that was enhanced by the soft classical music in the background (I could've easily melted into one of the over-stuffed chairs with my book, pretending to read with my eyes closed!).  Now here's a little secret.  This bookstore isn't old at all.  It's only one month old!  While most of us do anything we can to look younger, this place tried to look older.  Well done, Meg and Donovan.

The Irreverent Bookworm is your prototypical neighborhood bookstore that already enjoys many regulars after only a month.  The store's inventory of books is 90% used and 10% new.  Keep in mind that like many other indies, they can order anything for you that they don't have.  They acquire their used books from book sales and from customers who simply donate books.  If the customers bring in books for trade they can receive store credit.  Know that they have all of their used books on a data base and know exactly what they stock.  In their short month of existence, they already host events for poetry, writer's club, book club, and even occasional live music.  I thought the children's room was absolutely darling and the local neighborhood should be watching for when the store will be offering a story time.  I especially enjoyed all the great comfortable seating throughout the store as well as the open browsing space, something not always available inside book stores.  I don't know how the store could be any more inviting and open to leisurely browsing.

I had a terrific time meeting Meg and she has a bright personality that will continue to attract customers to this fine indie.  If you're in the neighborhood and close to the intersection of Bloomington and E 52nd St, stop in and visit this new bookstore with a relaxing and comfortable old school feel.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt.  I finally finished this 700+ page behemoth.  I don't have anything against big books but this one was too much.  Edit this thing down and I think its 5 stars.  In the words of one of my faithful followers, Lorrie C., it was tedious.  13-year old Theo is at a museum with his mother when an explosion kills her, leaving him orphaned save for a missing and non-involved father.  This is the beginning of a journey that takes Theo across the country and overseas to Europe in search of something.  He has little moral compass and his life is often rudderless.  For me, this book was more work than enjoyment.  But I know many who give this one two thumbs up.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The River, Peter Heller.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Remains Of The Day, Kazuo Ishiguro.  Code Talkers: A Novel About The Navajo Marnes of WWII, Joseph Bruchac.

Wonderful storefront on a corner location.  

The store has lots of window display space on both sides.  Creative seasonal display.  

My only disappointment is that I didn't see any on my visit.  :(

No worries.  I heard he doesn't read.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Frequent readers may recognize the celebrity enjoying one of the comfortable chairs.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Meg does a wonderful job with creative displays throughout the store.  

Creative and seasonal.  

The long wall of books complete with cobwebs on top of the shelves.  I felt right at home.  

Lots of comfy chairs to sit in and sample a book.  

Snap up one of these treasures before it's shelved.  

Find this table display for new books.  

A few of the sidelines offered include t-shirts and the bookstore tote bag.  

Wake me when the store closes!

Antique chair in excellent shape.  Looks great but I don't think it's as comfy as the one above!

I hear and I obey.  

Another great sitting area toward the back of the store.  

More bookstore swag.  

If you need to lose weight I think this diet is a sure thing.  

A great space for groups or events.  

Partial view of the Groovy Room.  I like it.  

Forget Waldo!  See if you can find J. Alfred on your next visit to The Irreverent Bookworm.  You'll have to search carefully, he's very small.  He lives in the bookstore.  

Partial view of the beautiful children's room.  

Children's room dedication.  Thank you to these women.  

Another partial view of the children's room.  

Tiny chair for a tiny reader.  

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

With Meg, the fine co-owner at The Irreverent Bookworm.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Storied Owl - St. Paul, MN

Storied Owl Books, St. Paul, MN
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

How is is that every newly opened bookstore I visit is just cute as a button?  Naturally, I have a theory.  If you think about it, new bookstores are just like new babies.  Nobody has ever seen an ugly baby, they're all cute.  The same can be said for "baby" bookstores, they're all beautiful .  This baby is only about three months old and is in excellent health.  Excellent health defined by life is off to a great start, business is going great, there is a reasonable lease with a nice landlord, and local people are continuing to discover the store.  But the great thing here is that this store is going to mature and blossom into a well-known Twin Cities bookstore destination.  And if you're reading this blurb now, make it so.  

This store has many advantages that other indies don't.  An excellent, visible corner location at the intersection of two busy streets.  It's nestled between academia and family residential.  It draws customers from young families in surrounding neighborhoods and customers from the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University (St. Catherine is actually right across the street).  The store is very well organized, very neat, and offers all new books with very few sidelines.  They have a good assortment of candy which is selling very well (come for the candy, stay for the books), some bookstore swag, and that's about it.   But as co-owner Amy T. told me, they're still figuring that part out.  That's what will be fun to see as I follow the store's growth.  As for the books, it's about a 50/50 split between adult and children's with the emphasis in adult's books on fiction.  Annie, one of the booksellers, told me that the sci-fi is selling very well.

In the store's brief existence, they've already hosted some events right on site.  They have many options for larger events off-site with their location so close to universities and large churches.  And if you're one of the young families in the neighborhood be watching for the start of their story time events.  

The proud parents here are co-owners Amy and Marcus M.  Their excitement and enthusiasm for their new store was fun to see and my visit was thoroughly enjoyable.

If you're in the Twin Cities area, something's cooking here.  Visit The Storied Owl and get in on the ground floor of a little bookstore with a big future.  Congratulations Ann and Marcus!  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Rotters, Daniel Kraus.  

This is the Cleveland Ave side.  

A great location at the corner of Cleveland and Randolph.  Vigilant readers may recognize the celebrity preparing to dash into the store.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Bookstore sidewalk signs never disappoint!

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Just inside the front entrance and near the check-out counter, there are several bulk candy selections.  I don't know a thing about marketing or business but this is sure to attract the neighbor kids and sooner or later they'll start hanging around to check out the books.  

Storied Owl merchandise.  

Beautiful display on a sunny day.  

When I saw this display, my first thought was how did this table from my junior high industrial arts class get here?

Two comfy places to sit and try out a book.  

I generally don't look for clocks when I'm in a bookstore but this was a nice one.  

The Storied Owl, of course, keeping watch over the store.  

Back half of the store.  

Mystery fans will enjoy these shelves.  

Another comfy reading spot.  Bring your own pillow.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

A timely and relevant display.  

Seasonal featured children's books.  

An overview of the store from back to front.  

With Marcus on the left and Amy in the center, the two fine co-owners of The Storied Owl.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Heartland Fall Forum - Cleveland, OH

Heartland Fall Forum, Cleveland, OH
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

When I began this journey and this blog it was with the intent of featuring strictly independent bookstores.  I can count on one hand the number of times I've strayed from that.  This entry will be one of those times for a couple of reasons.  1) Booksellers, owners, and managers need to hear about the Heartland Forum Event I attended and, 2) They also need to know about BINC, The Book Industry Charitable Foundation that can assist those same people in times of crisis.  If you work in a bookstore and have never attended your regional trade show, move it to the top of your "to-do" list.  I would strongly recommend this for your professional and personal growth in the business.  Once you attend, you'll never want to miss it again.  It will knock your bookstore socks off!

The Heartland Fall Forum is the annual regional trade show for the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA) and the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA).  This reminds me of teacher conferences I've attended that are so important for professional development, networking, re-charging your battery, renewing friendships that are so good for morale boosting, sales strategies, new products, and a host of other benefits.  I discovered long ago that teachers and booksellers have much in common.  For me to be afforded the opportunity to be a part of this conference/trade show was indescribable.  I renewed friendships with so many fantastic bookstore people I've met on my journey and met new ones who I want to visit in their store.  I especially enjoyed one of the professional development sessions I attended, "Dealing With Difficult Customers."  I wanted to find out if it was anything like dealing with difficult students!

And then there was the grand ballroom of exhibits, the trade show.  New books, publishers small and large, authors, and bookstore people everywhere.  Kit S., the BINC programs manager told me I would be in heaven and she was right.  For someone like me, a bookstore customer, this was one of the pinnacles of my journey.

I never could've done this if it weren't for Kit and all the terrific people at BINC.  Just like the bookstore people they serve, they were all equally nice.  If there is a larger gathering of darn nice people anywhere I'd like to know where it is.  Kathy B. development director, reeled me in at the awards ceremony along with Kate and they kindly took me under their wings for the festival.  These ladies along with Jenny, Lorie, Pam, and others made my experience as grand as my bookstore visits.  My only disappointment was they didn't tell me to wipe the drool off my chin from being surrounded by all the books and all the great people!

If you're in a bookstore and don't know about BINC, find out about it for yourself and others at your store.  They can provide emergency assistance for yourself and /or your store if you're in desperate straits.  Health emergency costs, natural disasters, living expenses, scholarship opportunities (they helped fund the Heartland Fall Forum experience for some of the booksellers) and MUCH more.  They are a valuable resource you can call on anytime when you are in need.  And the people who will help you are top notch.  Heck, they helped me enjoy a great bookstore experience just by getting me into this event.  Check this event out next time, booksellers.  You will not be disappointed.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt.

One of the entrances to the historic Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland, the location for the three day event.  The event site rotates each year so if this distance was too far, make sure you find out where next year's is held.  

There are easel display boards everywhere and there is also a program of events available with your registration.  

The HFF is fortunate to have a great group of sponsors.  

Lots of rooms like this one that host the many educational and informational sessions.  

The grand ballroom, the day before the vendors and exhibits set-up.  Consider this a "before" picture.  

Same room and view as above but filled with lots of new ideas, new books, wonderful people, and much positive energy.  

Just a portion of the Macmillan Publishers display area, a day before the event.  Those boxes will be unpacked, set-up, and offer lots of new books to browse, most of them yet to be released.  

Overview of the Gold Ballroom where the events ceremony was held.  Awards are presented to authors, organizations, and booksellers to name a few.  

Some of the BINC brain trust accepting the award.  Pam, the executive director is speaking.  Behind her from L-R:  Kate, Kathy, Sarah, and Lorie, the foundation president.  

Congratulations to BINC on their award for all their great work with bookstores and their people.  An incredible honor for me to be there.  

I ran into people like this everywhere.  Judith K. from Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge, MN.  

Booksellers, you may not think you have a safety net, but you do.  

If so, BINC can help.  

Display of new games available for independent bookstores.  

One of the new games, this one looks good.  

Another new game.  There is a session at the event where you can sit down with other booksellers and play the new games, a great way to try them out.  

This is an overview from the balcony of the trade show floor in the grand ballroom.  

An apt statement.  

Cannot thank these ladies and the entire BINC team enough for the invitation to experience this wonderful event.  With Kate in the middle and Kathy on the right, two of the fine folks you'll meet when you get to know BINC.
Thanks for a great visit.