Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Fulton Street Books & Coffee - Tulsa, OK

Fulton Street Books & Coffee, Tulsa OK

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100 years ago, this business in this location would've been impossible.  I guess quite honestly, this business would've been impossible just about anywhere.  100 years ago this store's location would've been in the midst of Tulsa's Race Massacre, another of a long line of sad and ignored chapters in our country's history.  (I would encourage everyone to learn more about it starting with these books:  Tulsa 1921, Randy Krehbiel; Black Wall Street 100, Hannibal B. Johnson; and, The Burning, Tim Madigan)  Hopefully, the victims of this tragedy are resting easier now to see a woman, black-owned business that is off to a fantastic start at this bookstore and cafe.  This is another bookstore in my recent visits that is a newbie that opened during the pandemic, less than a year old.

Fulton Street Books & Coffee is a true neighborhood bookstore, located in the Brady Heights area of Tulsa, with few businesses in its vicinity.  As Arjun, one of the staffers told me, many of the regulars live in the neighborhood and are able to walk to the store.  There are two exterior entrances, one into the bookstore and the other into the cafe.  Each space can be visited from the inside.  The interiors of the bookstore and cafe are absolutely stunning.  I don't have to talk to anyone to know that it took a lot of work to pull this off.  Well done Fulton Street.

The store offers new books along with some Fulton Street swag and greeting cards.  One of the store's missions is to provide shelf space to authors who might be overlooked at other bookstores.  Women, People of Color, and many more have all been given a voice here.  One of the great things about visiting here is finding those books that you can't find elsewhere.

This store is located on Latimer St. so don't try to find it on Fulton St.  Owner Onikah A-C named it Fulton Street Books & Cafe as a tribute to home and family.  A remembrance of growing up with the love of a special family and relatives in a special place.  Consider your visit here a home away from home.

I didn't get to meet Onikah on my visit but, boy was the store in great hands.  Arjun on the bookstore side and Max on the cafe side were super to meet and talk to and patiently answered my endless questions.  When you visit here I hope you get to meet them.

Inform yourself, educate yourself.  We've come a long way, we have a long way to go.  If your friends need a little nudge, this is the place to bring them.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  We Were The Lucky Ones, Georgia Hunter. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Black Wall Street 100, Hannibal B. Johnson.  

Notice that there are two entrances into this historic building.  The entance on the left will take you into the bookstore side and the entrance on the right will take you into the cafe side.  You can reach either side of the store from the inside. 

I love this logo. 

I've seen many great murals on the outside of bookstores.  Here's another on the exterior side wall. 

View looking into the store from the bookstore entrance. 

Looking to the left from the bookstore entrance. 

Relevant display of books about the 1921 Race Massacre in Tulsa. 

Perfect place to take a seat and try a book. 

This is the side wall in the bookstore and its thematic wall paper.  They did an excellent job with the renovation of this space.

You and a friend can enjoy a seat here discussing your next book. 

View of the comfy children's section. 

For most of you, this is preaching to the choir. 

Overview of the bookstore side of the store looking toward the front entrance.  Notice the beautiful tin ceiling and the decorated left wall.  Also notice the door to the left of the front window.  This is your inside path to the cafe. 

Leaving the bookstore side and entering the cafe side, this is your view. 

View of the cafe from the back toward its front entrance. 

A wonderful store dedication. 

View of the cafe and counter space. 

For now. 

Your drink will taste even better in a Fulton Street mug. 

A few of the greeting cards available. 

Fulton Street has lots of bookstore swag. 

With Arjun in the middle and Max on the right, two of the fine folks you'll meet at Fulton Street Books & Coffee.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Two Friends Books & Cafe - Bentonville, AR

Two Friends Bookstore & Cafe, Bentonville, AR

 (Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

G-PAR.  From my days in education, Goal, Plan, Action, Results (oh how my teacher friends are rolling their eyes).  Just as there is no cookie-cutter model for a bookstore space, there are also no two plans alike for starting that business and converting it to results.  I love to hear these stories and I love the one about Two Friends.  Two women, neither from Bentonville, moved here with their families a few years ago.  As newcomers they somehow met and decided to get together for coffee.  The first topic of their conversation?  Let's start a business!  From these humble beginnings (goal), they embarked toward a bookstore business (plan) that started as a pop-up store (action) in 2018 and has now become a brick and mortar open now for 10 months (results).  G-PAR!

So yes, this indie opened during the pandemic and I'm discovering this isn't totally unique.  As with the others, business is going very well.  What you see here is what you get.  350 butt-kickin' square feet of bookstore (but 100 square feet of this is the bathroom).  A small space, but I thought it was filled to the gills with floor to ceiling books and I was perfectly comfortable with this space.  They offer mostly new books with a few used.  Rachel, co-owner along with Monica, is the technology pro (or as bookseller Morgan says, wizard!) that allows customers to order books online.  If you order your book and live locally, they have a bicycle messenger make the delivery (I would love this job).  They offer a cafe service of coffee, tea, espresso drinks, wine, and sandwiches.  Rachel and her team constructed an impressive outdoor patio area where you can enjoy cafe items and sample a book when the weather is nice.  In their short existence they've developed a partnership with a local private school thanks to Rachel's husband's connection there.  In 10 months time as a brick and mortar and as a previous pop-up, they're doing great work here.  

Rachel and Monica, the co-owners are obviously the two friends in the bookstore's name.  But it would work just as well if it were named FOUR Friends because they left out two of their team members including Morgan who I met on this day.  No matter.  When you visit Two Friends, you'll meet any one of four terrific friends who will easily help you to enjoy a great bookstore experience.  Check this place out, Bentonville.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Baby, You're Gonna Be Mine: Stories,  Kevin Wilson.  I usually don't read collections of short stories, just not my genre.  Some have described this collection as humorous and witty.  There was nothing humorous about any of these.  More like dark and bizarre or just plain weird.  They were readable however.  If short stories are your thing you might enjoy these.  For me?  Meh. 

CURRENTLY READING: We Were The Lucky Ones, Georgia Hunter. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Let Me Tell You What I Mean, Joan Didion.  

This is the building that is home to Two Friends.  The business is on the ground floor with residential units filled with customers on the above floors.


I always take this as a good sign when I see the sidewalk chalkboards. 


A super outdoor patio constructed by the Two Friends team.  Get your book and a latte and spend some time here. 


Front entrance and windows. 


View looking toward the wall of books on the right after entering. 


A partial view of the left wall inside the store. 


Beautiful front table display just inside the front entrance. 

View of the cafe area and checkout counter. 
Options for your coffee and espresso drinks. 


Wine, baked goodies, and sandwiches available here.  You might as well make a day of it. 


I always enjoy seeing what the book clubs are reading. 


The store's bookclub pick. 


On the back wall behind the cafe area you'll see these options. 


Overview of the store looking toward the front entrance.  The store is small but they've done a super job of organization and using their space.  For a small space, they have a lot to offer. 


Staff recommendations. 


A portion of the books offered in Spanish. 


Local authors and interests. 


Your drink will taste even better in a Two Friends mug. 
The long wall of books. 

Make sure you check out the bookstore swag. 

A perfect "canvas" for young artists right outside the entrance.  

I love the name of this store.  It just makes it feel so welcoming. 

With Morgan on the left and Rachel on the right holding her future reader.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Bookmarx - Springfield, MO

Bookmarx, Springfield, MO

 (Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Readers, I've said it before and I'll say it again, any town that calls itself a college town should absolutely have an independent bookstore.  I don't know if Springfield considers itself a college town but that would be my observation here with Missouri State along with several others.  Bookmarx is situated perfectly in the downtown district and is also a very short walk from the Missouri State campus.  Why do college towns need these bookstores?  As Josh the owner told me, their business from the college community is around 60%.  Factor that in with the business from other customers in the community and you have a recipe for success.  Do you live in a college town WITHOUT an independent bookstore?  Open one!

Bookmarx is not a radical commie or Marxist bookstore.  Don't let its name or logo fool you, it's just a play on the words, "book marks."  They offer mostly used books (perfect in a college town), along with some new and a few collectibles.  The one-level store includes a beautiful red art gallery room in the back featuring art work by local artists.  It's also a great events room for when those resume.  The store has been around for 7 years and coincidentally, was previously an art gallery.  I'm always braced for the worst when I ask owners how the past 12 months have been.  Surprisingly, as with Josh here at Bookmarx, many have told me that things have gone very well.  Maybe the pandemic moved people closer to books with little else to do.  

It's been awhile since I've been in a bookstore with a bookstore cat so I was pleasantly surprised here.  They actually have two bookstore cats but Squash hasn't reported to work for about a year (this means he can probably use the stimulus?).  This, despite the fact he has his own recommended book shelf.  So on this day, I met Googey who was on his break napping (not sure why Squash couldn't show up and rock this schedule?) but eventually he woke up and strolled through the store with me.  

Hey Springfield, don't leave this place to the college kids.  Bring in some of your books to trade and take time to browse through a terrific independent bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Baby, You're Gonna Be Mine, Kevin Wilson.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Deacon King Kong, James McBride.  Not purchased but gifted, Secrets In The Cellar, John Glatt.  Thanks Josh.   

Beautiful storefront in downtown Springfield. 

Lots of display window space and lots of natural light into the store. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance. 
This is Googey who was at the check-out counter when I came in.  He looks relaxed and well-rested so I can only assume that the labor conditions for cats are favorable. 

A few of Josh's staff picks. 

Squash is the bookstore cat and this is his book recommendation.  Googey doesn't have a book recommendation so my confusion about Squash is that he hasn't been to work in approximately a year while Googey has been the diligent employee in the store.

Display of artists who've taken a stab at recreating the store logo. 

You'll find this seat in the front room waiting for you to sit and try a book. 

Just a portion of the classics offered. 

Beautiful depiction of the storefront by a local artist. 

The store offers a few new books and you'll find them at this display. 

An overview of the 2nd room in the store. 

An overview of the 3rd room, including the children's section. 

View looking into the red room, the art gallery part of the store.  This will be a great space for events. 

The art gallery room features works by local artists. 

Look for creative pieces like this one, in the art gallery. 

The Great Gatsby printed in its entirety on this lithograph. 

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

With Josh on the right, the fine owner at Bookmarx.  Thanks for a great visit.