Monday, June 28, 2021

The Vermont Book Shop - Middlebury, VT

The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, VT

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What is it with Vermont Bookstores?  There must be something in the water or air but whatever it is, I hope it never changes.  And on the week day morning of my visit this place was on fire with business.  For a small state, this is a bookstore mecca.  Every other little town you pass through has a bookstore.  So impressive when you look around the country and see many larger communities with absolutely nothing.  Middlebury is a town of approximately 8500 that not only is home to The Vermont Book Shop but two other indies.  This store is another one of those legendary Vermont bookstores that is certainly deserving of any recognition coming its way.  Legendary because it has been in business since 1949, 70+ years.  And even more remarkable, still in its original location in downtown Middlebury.  

Becky D. has been the owner here since 2005, only the 3rd ownership.  I've been wanting to visit this store for quite awhile because I think its exterior is a beautiful and iconic look that could be representative for any Vermont bookstore, especially with that classic name.  And for this store, you CAN judge a book by its cover because the inside is just as beautiful as the outside.  Inside you'll see a touch of new to go with the old.  Lots of new lighting, new-looking genre signs with smooth and shiny shelving throughout give the interior a very attractive look.  You'll find all new books on those shelves and I love that you can find staff picks scattered throughout the store.  Lots of terrific sidelines including greeting cards, bookstore socks, and jigsaw puzzles, similar to what other indies offer.  Thankfully, the store has a solid core of regular customers (maybe these go back a few generations?) along with visitors, parents, and alumni of Middlebury College and tourists.

The great news is this indie is another example of pandemic survival.  All of these bookstores that survived have a few things in common.  Devoted local customers that sustained the store with overwhelming online orders; sales of jigsaw puzzles were huge; and as Linda one of the booksellers told me, Becky worked extremely hard to keep things going.  This is the recipe to pandemic success that I've heard repeatedly.

Jenny and Linda were the wonderful store ambassadors who were so welcoming and great to visit with.  These are always the people in every bookstore that make my visits so rewarding.

Hey parents, next time you drop your child off at Middlebury College, don't even CONSIDER leaving town until you visit the terrific people and this fantastic bookstore in downtown Middlebury.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Book Of Rosy, Rosayra Pablo Cruz & Julie Schwietert Collazo.  True story of a Guatemalan mother and her attempts to get into the United States with her two sons.  Gripping, realistic, and a must read.  If you have a friend that doesn't understand, get them this book.  Includes an addendum of how we can help and get involved.  If you don't feel compassion after this book you don't have a heart.  Outstanding.  Highly recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Black Out, John Lawton. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Squeeze Me, Carl Hiaasen.  The Boy In The Field, Margot Livesey.     

Another view of the historic and iconic storefront.  Beautiful. 

Can do. 

Attractive storefront window display. 

Exterior window displays on both sides of the front entrance. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance. 

Looking to the right from the front entrance.  Start browsing immediately. 

View looking to the left from the front entrance. 

Enjoy this comfy seat in the front of the store and try out a book. 

If you still need something for the graduate, they've got you covered. 

Immediately to the right from the front entrance you can get your unique bookstore socks and of course a tote bag for all the books you'll be buying. 

Or, consider one of these tote bags. 

Excellent display of Vermont Book Store recommendations. 

Bookstores in historic buildings sometimes have advantages over modern spaces.  Jenny allowed me into the bowels of the building where I saw the easy book delivery system.  The box of books coming down the chute used to be for coal delivery back in the day.  What an easy way to receive the new books. 

An excellent table display.  Don't miss the jigsaw puzzles underneath. 

Just a few of the greeting cards available. 

A unique variety of sidelines are offered. 

The long wall of books waiting to meet you. 

Just a portion of the children's section. 

Another partial view of the children's section. 

Don't miss the magnificent view looking out behind the bookstore.  This picture doesn't do it justice. 

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

Tourists to Vermont absolutely will need something from this display. 

I hope your indie advocates for a local social cause.  Way to go Middlebury. 

With Linda on the left and Jenny on the right, two of the fine folks you'll meet at The Vermont Book Shop (I was distracted by a book during the picture, obviously).  Thanks for a great visit. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Booklover's Gourmet - Webster, MA

Booklover's Gourmet, Webster, MA

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One of my favorite things about this journey is not only meeting the owners but also meeting some of their staff.  It's extra special when those staffers are relatives of the owner.  Owner Deb H. is fortunate to have a great support group staff of mom and dad who help out at the store.  I didn't get to meet Deb's dad but thoroughly enjoyed meeting her mother, Lorraine O.  As with all booksellers, she has her niche and special talent at Booklover's Gourmet.  Since she has about 100 books at home about Elvis, I would encourage anyone in Webster with even the slightest interest in Elvis to ask her for a book recommendation on ANYTHING Elvis.  And like any good independent bookstore, if you want a book about Elvis or anything else Deb will order it for you if it isn't in the store.

I think any bookstore that is still open now after closing for the pandemic is very encouraging.  Like many others, Booklover's Gourmet survived because of loyal local customers placing online orders for books and gift cards.  Now that the store is open for browsing, those customers have even more options.  A cute cafe service area that offers coffee, espresso drinks, and baked goods.  There are a variety of sidelines available, many produced locally like the dream catchers for example.  You can also find numerous greeting cards, puzzles, teas, and journals to name a few.  Additionally, you'll find framed photographs for sale by local artists. 

Booklover's offers a good variety of new and used books along with some collectible editions and a large inventory of used comics.  Customers who bring their used books in can do so for store credit or trade.  The store is host to book groups and writing groups and was very active with events before the pandemic.  Expect to see those resume at some point and they'll include art shows, author events, and maybe open mic nights.  

26+ years ago the Webster Chamber of Commerce told Deb, don't bother, a bookstore won't make it here in Webster.  Thank goodness she didn't listen.  The approximatley 16,000 citizens in Webster didn't listen either.  Congratulations to the Booklover's Gourmet AND the community in Webster on a job well done.  Here's to many more years ahead of successful book selling.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and The Last Trial of Harper Lee, Casey Cep.  Combination narrative non-fiction and biography.  Five people die mysteriously in Alabama and the suspect for each victim is a pastor, yet they can't convict.  The victims have two things in common.  They all have a relationship to this pastor and he had life insurance policies on everyone.  Years later, Harper Lee visits and begins investigating the crimes in what might be her next novel.  Did she ever right this crime novel?  I absolutely loved this book.  Highly recommended.   

CURRENTLY READING:  The Book Of Rosy, Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schwietert Collazo.    

Beautiful storefront. 

Don't mind if I do!

Happy Anniversary to a terrific independent bookstore. 

A chair for you and your friend and a table for your drink on a nice day. 

View looking into the store and toward the right from the front entrance. 

Check out the variety of sidelines to the left from the front entrance.

On the left side of the store you'll find the cafe seating area. 

Puzzles have been huge sellers over the last year at just about every bookstore I visit.

The store features local artwork by talented individuals.  They often host art shows on site. 

Just a few of the greeting cards available. 

A variety of journals are offered. 

One of the several book nooks in the store. 

If books aren't your thing, make your way to the cafe display case. 

Lots of drinks to choose from to go with whatever you get from the display case. 

Unique dream catchers. 

The kids will like these items. 

A partial view of the children's section in and around this area. 

Booklover's Gourmet offers a few collectible editions. 

Looking into the back room where you'll find lots of bargains. 

Some great bargains for comic book fans. 

An overview of the back room. 

A few of the games available. 

Looking from the back of the store toward the front entrance. 

With Lorraine on the left and Deb on the right, two of the fine folks you'll meet at Booklover's Gourmet.  Thanks for a great visit.