Monday, November 25, 2019

Page 1 Books - Evanston, IL

Page 1 Books, Evanston, IL
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Red rover, red rover send Ginger right over.  Attention all bookstore scholars, historians, owners, and staffers, especially those of you who are familiar with 1970s Texas bookstores (Indie Bob, what does this have to do with Page 1 Books in Evanston?  Just stick with me here, people!).  Just as people are curious about their ancestors, Page 1 Books is curious about theirs.  You see, owner Brandy O., grew up in Corpus Christi with a neighborhood bookstore she rode her bike to.  She loved it so much that when she was 9 years old, she asked owner Ginger for a job in this bookstore, Page 1 Books.  Brandy was so inspired by this store and owner that she named her new store Page 1 Books to honor that past.  So now, she's searching for Ginger, Page 1 Book's owner in Corpus Christi during the 1970s.  Brandy is trying to locate Ginger to thank her for the impact and inspiration she's had on her life and the new store.  If only there were an for bookstores!

Here's what I know for sure about Ginger.  She will be extremely proud of Brandy and this new, 6-month old bookstore that she's opened in Evanston, near the Northwestern University campus.  A beautiful interior space offering all new books and a variety of literary-themed sidelines.  If you're looking for literary-themed tea or candles, you'll find them here along with some unique gift ideas.  This business actually began a couple of years ago as an internet book subscription service.  That business grew so well (including 12,000 instagram followers) that Brandy decided to open a brick and mortar store.  Her background in technology and marketing along with a talented team of family members prompted her to tell me that results so far have been "incredibly overwhelming."  

The store is already offering an active events schedule, including a twice-weekly story time.  They enjoy a lot of walk-in traffic and regular customers as well as staff members from the Northwestern community.  And if any Northwestern students stop in to shop they'll get a 10% discount.  Thanks to their subscription series they also enjoy customers from all over the country, some of whom visit Evanston to see the physical store.

Brandy and bookseller Sara are the reasons my journey is such a blast (bookstore dog, Boo Radley, was not present and had the day off.  I'm required to deduct points for this staffing transgression).  These people will make your visit outstanding and Ginger will love this beautiful descendent of her Page 1 Books.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Thirty Years A Slave, Louis Hughes.  Autobiography originally published in 1897.  An excellent primary source of the author's life from the 1840s through the 1890s.  Considering the time period, this is very readable.  The brutality of slavery recorded by this author and the attitudes of both races during this time period are vividly recorded.  Life as a slave on the plantation and the home of the planter.  Also excellent observations about the Civil War.  Published by NewSouth Books.  I thoroughly enjoyed this accounting.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:   The Overstory, Richard Powers.  

You probably can't read these unless you enlarge the picture.  This is a display window of gratitude, a great idea.  Thanks Page 1.  

The store already has a busy events schedule.  

This is so indie.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  

Just inside the front door you'll see a table display of new and noteworthy fiction.  

A very comfortable place in the front of the store to enjoy good company and a good book.  

There are inspirational quotes found throughout the store.  I've seen this in other indies and I like the idea.  

Wonderful display of new and noteworthy non-fiction.  

Literary-themed tea to go with your book.  Jane Austen's black tea blend.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

I think this is a fantastic service.  This part of the business was in place a couple of years before the store opened.  

And if you don't like your book?  No biggie, no sweat, no hassle.  

This is what one of the book subscription gift bundles looks like.  As one customer told Brandy, it's like getting a present for yourself once a month.  

Much of the artwork you see displayed in the store was done by Brandy's daughter and is available for purchase.  

Sometimes you can find beauty beneath the display tables.  Beautiful.  

You saw the gratitude display window?  I call this the gratitude pole.  Way to go Page One!   

Unique.  A must have.  

Find these shelves for some 50% off bargains.  

A few of the books available by Evanston authors.  

If you know a Shakespeare fan, this gift pack would be perfect.  

Or get the same gift bundle for your Charles Dickens fan.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

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

With Brandy, the fine owner at Page One Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Monday, November 18, 2019

Sidekick Books & Coffee - Iowa City, IA

Sidekick Coffee & Books, Iowa City, IA
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Iowa City is a town with some renowned independent bookstores and a variety of wonderful local coffee shops.  Heck, Iowa City is even recognized as a UNESCO international city of literature, one of only 28 cities (but only two in the US, the other is Seattle).  Is it even possible to consider that this area could absorb yet another similar business into the local landscape?  You better believe it.  This is something Sidekick owner Katy H. has been considering for quite awhile.  Finally timing and opportunity collided and the result is something uniquely Iowa City and something very compatible with all the other local like-minded businesses.  

Katy was looking to own a bookstore/cafe combination with both components equally important.  She hit the mark with Sidekick and now newly opened for just 2 months, they are off to an excellent start.  They offer all new books with the emphasis on kids books and kid-oriented events.  90% of the book inventory is devoted to kids.  The cafe offers any coffee drink imaginable along with an impressive display of baked goods.  Everything from taco pot pie to quiche to amazing looking cinnamon rolls.  After you finish that consider a cotton candy ice cream cone.  Everything offered is produced locally and the baked goods are from the nearby Tip Top Cakes bakery in Coralville.  Katy also offers a limited catering service for local events and meetings.  As for store events, I cannot believe how active their schedule is for only 2-months old.  The store is truly a neighborhood bookstore and attracts families that simply walk to the store.  Sidekick is located on the busy Melrose Ave on the bottom floor of new multi-level apartments with another similar building nearby.  It happens to be in the same neighborhood as Kinnick Stadium, home of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, another plus.  There are lots of great places to sit throughout the store and enjoy a coffee.  But you won't find any wi-fi.  Instead, talk to your neighbors, read your books, or read to your kids.

If you drive by here and see nowhere to park, don't despair.  The big news that some new customers don't get is that there is a HUGE parking lot behind the store.

Katy, along with booksellers Alissa and Jenna were terrific to meet and talk to about the store.  Readers, this is another newbie with a great future.  Pay Sidekick a visit and grab a kid to take along with you.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Salt To The Sea, Ruta Sepetys.  One of the best books I've read lately.  Historical fiction that takes place in 1945 Europe as refugees are fleeing the Russian advances in the east.  Story centers on 4 refugees and their unbelievable journey to escape with their lives, enduring many hardships and loss along the way.  Classified as YA but to me, this is adult lit.  5-stars all the way.  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Thirty Years A Slave, Louis Hughes.

There are two entrances to the bookstore and if you drive here and park in back, this is probably the entrance you'll go through.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

This really had me faked out.  I couldn't tell if it was a cross section from a very large tree or actually part of the floor.  It was neither.  But it was a very cool area rug.  

I'm doing what I can.  

A wonderful place to sit in the front of the store.  

This is a great living room setting in the front of the store.  A perfect place to try out a book.  

Display of animals that kids will love.  

Very unique reading nooks in a portion of the children's section, for kids or adults with kids.  I love these.  

One more thing kids will enjoy.  

Any direction you go in this store is a win-win!

Yes please.  

The choice of food items is outstanding.  

There is table space throughout the store.  This area is near the back entrance.  

The volume of events is incredible considering the short time the store has been open.  Very impressive.  

Mark your calendars.  

The interior decorating is excellent.  

A few of your options in the cafe.  

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

These are "must haves" for your little Hawkeye fan.  

A nice section of children's books about holidays around the world.  

With Alissa on the left and Katy on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at Sidekick Books & Coffee.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Monday, November 11, 2019

Wordsmith Bookshoppe - Galesburg, IL

Wordsmith Bookshoppe, Galesburg, IL
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Regular readers know that my journey began as a project to visit every bookstore featured in, My Bookstore, by Ron Rice.  That book was the inspiration that began my madness and now I've met someone else equally inspired by the same book.  Teri P. opened Wordsmith Bookshoppe 2+ months ago along with her husband John.  She had extensive experience for many years at a small independent chain store, Book World.  Sadly, Book World stores are no longer in business.  But when one door closes another one opens and John said let's open our own bookstore.  But as Teri told me ("John, are you kidding me?!"), owning a bookstore is a lot different from working in one.  She needed information and resources fast.  Enter My Bookstore, by Ron Rice.  Her education included reading about all those successful indies and learning about numerous marketing ideas for her newly opened store in Galesburg.  The results?  A knock it out of the park home run in a town that previously had nothing like it and was also welcoming and enthusiastic about a new business like Wordsmith (way to go Galesburg).  Well done, indeed.  

Clearly, Teri is knowledgeable about the business and that is huge for opening a bookstore.  She got a great bargain from Book World and acquired all of their shelving at a low price.  These shelves are a wonderful enhancement to the store's beautiful and spacious (2100 sq. ft.) interior.  Wordsmith offers all new books along with some literary themed sidelines.  The candles and Bob Ross swag are selling very well.  I can't imagine any place in Galesburg offering as extensive a variety of magazines as they do here.  The store plans to top out their magazines at 1500 different titles.  They'll also be selling an assortment of comic books soon.  Teri has plans to eventually flesh out an active events schedule.  They already host a scrabble night and book club night to name a few.  Watch for story time to begin soon. 

Best of all, Teri has surrounded herself with a staff of rock stars (yes, Leah, rock stars!).  Husband John, her parents Ron and Leah, and bookseller John all contribute their individual talents to make this a shining star in downtown Galesburg.  If you're in the Galesburg area and haven't been here yet, your first visit will take your breath away.  Congratulations to Teri and staff and congratulations Galesburg.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Don't Make Me Pull Over!, Richard Ratay.  Part memoir, part historical look at all things travel related including the highway systems, automobiles, rest areas, Stuckey's, air travel, and more.  If you went on a family vacation as a kid and your dad's main goal was "making good time", you might like this one.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Salt To The Sea, Ruta Sepetys.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Faithful, Alice Hoffman.  

This display window gives the store lots of space to work with.  

Just keep this in mind for the next 5 months or so.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Just inside the front door and along the wall to the right is an endless offering of magazines.  Impressive.  

Also just inside the front door are some great places to page through a book.  

Looking to the left from the front entrance.  Notice the historic brick wall above the shelves.  

Hey bookstore owners, this sideline is hot here at Wordsmith Bookshoppe.  

These literary-themed soy wax candles are selling well here as well as many other bookstores I've visited.  

You find the most unique sidelines in independent bookstores.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Another view of the historic brick wall.  Owner Teri is getting ready to sell a book naturally!

I like this display of large print books because it is displayed in way that makes it easily accessible for seniors.  

An assortment of audio books.  

If you want to find out about some of the country's best bookstores, get this book (or follow this blog!).  This was a HUGE help for Teri when getting started at this store and was the inspiration for my journey.  

The large front display window from the inside, a great set-up.  

A long wall of books.  

In addition to the graphic novels already here, the store will also be adding comics.  

YIPPEE!  It's new book day!

Relevant table display for the holiday season.  

A great display in appreciation of our veterans and Veteran's Day.  

Lots of literary-themed sidelines to choose from.  

Kids will enjoy this display.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

Find a 2020 calendar for your sports fan.  
A nice selection of books by local and regional authors.  

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

This is the great group of people you'll meet when you visit Wordsmith Bookshoppe.  From L-R: John, John P., Leah, Ron, and Teri P.  Thanks for a great visit.