Monday, October 11, 2021

Winding Trail Books - St. Paul, MN

Winding Trail Books, St. Paul, MN

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Rick G., co-owner of Winding Trail Books along with wife Sue, shared with me what one of their customers told him while visiting the store.  "Man, you cram a lot of stuff in here."  I've decided this is an understatement!  This small space in the Milton Square retail area is able to fill a space with books and sidelines and yet you don't feel crowded or cramped while browsing and shopping.  Rick and Sue have managed to do an excellent job organizing their space to offer new and used books along with a few vintage editions.  The books of local interest and by local authors are especially strong.  The sidelines they offer are too numerous to mention them all but they are largely sourced locally from area artists.  This includes jewelry, puzzles, greeting cards, candles, stickers, and MUCH more.  Truly, there is something here for everyone.  

Winding Trail just celebrated its 2nd birthday having opened at the inopportune time right before covid took off and shut everything down.  When that hit, they had to rethink their business model and started offering online orders, curbside pick-ups, and home deliveries which all made a difference for the store's survival.  Slowly but surely the store is beginning to see an uptick in business with the declivity of the coronavirus.  This will coincide with the return of author signings and children's events which were huge before the pandemic.

Winding Trail is located in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood and is surrounded by many other independent retail businesses, a great location and very compatible for foot traffic.  It is also situated right between the St. Paul campus and Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota and attracts many customers from those communities.

One of the best things you'll enjoy during your visit here is the mural artwork throughout the store's interior.  The store logo, parts of the walls, and the entire ceiling in the back children's room are all covered with beautiful work done by local artists.  If there are awards for bookstore art/decor, this store should be a nominee.  Very impressive.

If you're in the Twin Cities and haven't discovered this gem yet, hop to it.  You'll experience a delightful store that might be small, but it packs a big punch.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Shaking The Gates Of Hell, John Archibald.  The author, born and raised in Alabama,  is a descendant of generations of Methodist ministers and when he was born in 1963 at the height of the civil rights unrest, he was curious about his father's platform in the Methodist church.  Did he preach about equality during these uneasy times or did he remain silent?  A deep look into 1960's Alabama and the part the white clergy did or didn't play during those days.  Part memoir and part family history.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  My Life And Hard Times, James Thurber. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Wolf Kill, Cary J. Griffith.  The Latehomecomer, Kao Kalia Yang. 

 

Keep going.
Follow the signs. 
The store sits back from the street a bit in a multi-spaced retail area.  They've done a great job with lots of signs to help the directionally-challenged find the store.  In fact, despite the multiple and excellent signage, Rick told me he hadn't had time to put them all out yet!

 

You're almost there. 

 

Browse these offerings before turning right from here and entering the store. 

 

Looking into the store from the front entrance.  See the realistic looking twisted vines?  That's actually part of a mural. 

 

The store has a strong Minnesota flavor of offerings like this jewelry. 

 

Display of new and recent releases. 

 

Beautiful table display featuring a few Minnesota authors. 

 

I think the store's logo is fantastic.  Nice work by a talented local artist
Another look at the twisted vines.

 

Music lovers will enjoy this display just inside the front door. 

 

Lots of browsing to do here. 

 

Looking for a cause?  Find one here. 

 

Locally sourced greeting cards. 

 

Just a few of the books of local interest or by local authors. 

 

Most indies have had great success selling puzzles.  Same here for Winding Trail. 

 

A variety of North Shore candles can be found here. 

 

Find this display in the children's room. 

 

This is a portion of the mural in the children's room.  I think the woman looks very realistic.  That stream of blue coming out of the book continues up onto the ceiling...

 

...where you'll see this.  Outstanding work and I can't imagine how the artist did this without getting a stiff neck.  I actually laid on the floor to get this picture. 

 

Another corner mural in the children's room. 

 

Hands down one of my favorite authors and you might bump into him here.  He lives in the St. Paul neighborhood. 



An overview of the store looking toward the front entrance. 

Many indies feature some really unique art works.  Remember my advice, if you see it in a bookstore and you like it, GET IT!  It will be hard to find anywhere else. 
Can't get here in person?  Here's your solution. 
With Rick on the left, the fine co-owner at Winding Trail Books.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Inklings Bookstore - Bedford, IN

 

Inklings Bookstore, Bedford, IN
 

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To all my teacher friends who follow this blog, boy have I got news for you.  Now, in addition to your full-time teaching job, you can also own a bookstore!  I didn't meet owners Brian and Lacy on the day of my visit because they were busy at school teaching (duh!).  They are the owners of Inklings Books in Bedford, IN.  And good heavens if they can do it, I know my many teacher friends can.  But if you decide to do this there are two things you need to pull it off.  First, you need to own the building your bookstore will be in.  And secondly, you need a terrific store manager, like Walter who runs the show here while Brian and Lacy are teaching.  And if you can own the building on a very busy street one block from the town square, that would help too.  

For Brian and Lacy, this is their passion project.  Inklings Books has been here for 9+ years meaning it has survived multiple challenges including the most recent pandemic crisis.  The store offers all used books in a two-level space.  When you enter the store do not call it quits after a token browse.  Go to the basement where there are way more books and a comfortable browsing space.  A wild guess from Walter puts the inventory at 27,000 books.  The books are not on an inventory but like any good bookseller, if its in the store Walter can find it.  Customers who bring books in can receive credit or trade but many simply donate their books to the store, a huge benefit for any store's business margin.  In addition to the books, the store offers a small cafe service which has been helpful when the book sales are down.  They're also trying to make this a space for students to hang out as an option to the library.  A quiet space to chat, play board games, study, or read.

Walter thinks this is the only indie in the county and he's probably right.  In a town of 14,000 it can use all the patronage it can get so Bedfordians, hear this call to arms!  Check out this bookstore and discover on its shelves a wide variety of books and multiple subjects that will offer something of interest to everyone.  And if you can't find one for yourself, find one for a friend.  Shop local, buy local, and support your small businesses.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Shaking The Gates Of Hell, John Archibald. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Wolf Whistle, Lewis Nordan.  Silver Borne, Patricia Briggs. 


Sidewalk view. 


Beautiful store logo in the front window. 

Looking into the store from the front entrance.  Walter is ready to get you a coffee or help you find a book. 

Looking to the right from the front entrance. 

Immediately to the left and in the front window, a wonderful space to meet with friends. 

Lots of games to play.  Anyone remember Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots?!

Interesting history of the stores' name. 


I tried out one of these chairs during my visit.  I can confirm their comfortableness. 

Still looking for Harry Potter books?  Check here. 

Partial view behind the cafe counter. 

Find something on the menu, find a book, and find a seat. 

Yes, I can find something here to go with my book. 


Shakespeare, Butler, and Bacon to name a few. 


Partial offerings of fiction.  The books you see on this main level are the tip of the iceberg compared to the lower level. 

Follow this wall of books to the back room. 

Great pricing. 

Partial view of the children's area. 

Partial overview of the back room. 


Show your Bedford and Heltonville spirit. 


View looking into the lower level. 

After coming down the stairs, go immediately right, curl around and then walk toward the back of the lower level. 

A great seating area to sample some books. 


One long wall of books. 

The lower level has lots of super places to gather with friends. 

With Walter on the left, the fine store manager at Inklings Bookstore.  Thanks for a great visit.