Saturday, September 24, 2022

Northwind Book & Fiber - Spooner, WI

Northwind Book & Fiber, Spooner, WI

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I didn't get to meet owner Carol on this visit but boy was the store in good hands on this day.  I can't imagine a more talented and knowledgeable person to be at this speific store than Denise D.  In addition to all new books, Northwind offers an extensive sideline of "fiber", including all things yarn, sewing, knitting, weaving, and all related accessories.  Fortunately for Northwind, Denise has an extensive background in all of the above and even teaches classes in these subjects.  She has also had one of her patterns published, a wonderful achievement.  I wish I could articulate accurately this incredible part of the store but I'm sure any of the regulars can vouch for this.  I challenge any customer to stump her with a question in this department because I don't think it can be done.  But before you get to this section you'll have to peruse the books.

Carol is the 2nd owner of this business that has been successful for 25+ years.  I am so impressed by the community support, in a town of approximately 2500.  And now the store is seeing more and more tourists finding their way through the doors.  Thankfully, the store did very well during the pandemic due to Carol's efforts, especially with their online sales, something that continues to do well.  Besides the fiber and a healthy inventory of arts and crafts, you'll find greeting cards, puzzles, games, stickers, and walking sticks to name a few.  They also offer classes in the store, book clubs, and author events.  Regular customers can take advantage of their store visits with a loyalty card and apply their purchases toward a future discount.  In other words, this store really has it all.  Way to go, Northwind.  

I visited here on a Thursday, a lucky day for me because its the one day a week that Denise works at Northwind.  Her background covers just about everything in this store.  Heck, walk by the store during the holidays and you'll probably see her creativity on display in one of the store windows.

Spooner is not a town to simply pass through.  On your next vacay in the region, turn onto the busiest street downtown.  Say hello to Carol and the gang and if its on a Thursday, say hello to Denise and enjoy a great bookstore experience.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Devil's Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated The South's Most Notorious Slave Jail, Kristen Green.  The true story of Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman and her struggle to survive and endure despite the sexual abuse of her enslaver and slave trader, Robert Lumpkin, who ran Lumpkin's Jail.  She persevered and is credited with starting a school in the same jail which was the beginnings of Virginia Union University.  The author has done voluminous research but was also forced to speculate about much of the history since the plight of Black women in the 1800s was rarely documented.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The Dry, Jane Harper. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:   Paris, Edward Rutherford.  Poop Bingo, a game.  


The beautiful historic building that is the home of Northwind Books & Fiber. 
One of the beautiful display windows. 


Enjoy your book here on a nice day. 


Not enough window space to list everything in the store. 


Of course!  I love this. 


View looking into the store from the front entrance. 
Looking to the right from the front entrance. 


You can make your sticker purchase at the check out counter. 

Specially made chocolate for Northwind from Chicago only available in this store. 

Venture to the right after entering and checkout the staff picks. 


Stroll over to the right side of the store for one of my favorite pictures.  Start browsing. 


Recent releases just inside the store. 


Just the tip of the iceberg to whet your yarn appetite. 


Table display of new arrivals.  I've got my eyes on that new book about Jim Thorpe. 
Display of best sellers. 
The store has many attractive table displays. 
Just a few of the items of local and regional interest. 
I don't know what this is.   I'm intrigued. 


An example of some of the wonderful art work you can see displayed throughout the store. 
In order to carry all the yarn and books you'll buy, this is the perfect thing you'll need for that and to remember the great day you had at this store. 


Overview of the children's area. 


One of the neatly organized book nooks. 
Walk down the center aisle halfway through the store and look to the left.  Yarn City. 

This is looking to the right from that same position.. 


More yarn and a plethora of magazines with lots of patterns and tips.


A great area for group knitting, group projects, and book clubs. 
An extensive assortment of greeting cards. 


Kids will love this store. 

A wide assortment of games. 
View looking from the back of the store toward the front entrance. 


I don't know what Japanese seed beads are but I can't imagine where I would find them other than this store. 


If you have an artist in the family they have everything you want here. 

If you're in the Spooner area and visit the bookstore even a little, do yourself a favor and get a frequent buyer's card and get rewarded for your visits. 

With Denise, the fine book and yarn expert at Northhwind Books & Fiber.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Chapters On Main - Van Buren, AR

Chapters On Main, Van Buren, AR

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One of my favorite things to do in a bookstore is explore and wander.  If you enjoy that like I do, you're going to love Chapters On Main in Van Buren, AR.  This place was made for exactly that kind of wonderful experience.  Multiple levels, lots of nooks, aisles, and spaces of all sizes (including the fun and smallest of spaces for kids under a stairway).  No wonder Joy H., the operations director, and her staff are so happy working here.  I told Joy and staff more than once if I lived closer they'd never get rid of me and would have to throw me out at closing time.  So here's hoping if YOU live close you come here to wander and explore and never want to leave.  

Chapters On Main has been in business for 7 years and took over the business from a previous bookstore, Brandenburg Books, that had been here for over 10 years prior.  Brandenburg Books offered only used books but Chapters decided to offer new and used and has found that decision to be very successful.  Many customers will bring in used books to simply donate to the store.  Otherwise, customers can receive store credit or cash in return.  They also transitioned the store with technology offering book sales online through their website, something that has also been beneficial.  One of the best parts of the store is the full-service coffee cafe.  You can enjoy seating in the cafe, the beautiful front patio, the back patio, or any of the multiple gathering spaces throughout the store.  These spaces also offer options for their many events.  A very large gathering space in the lower level is available at a reasonable price for interested local groups, another plus for the store's business.

One of the advantages of the stores' location is that its right across the street from a train depot that brings in people on train excursions three times a week.  These people flood into the store along with a customer base that includes many regulars, people from the two local colleges, and tourists.  This all adds up to a bookstore that is thriving and enjoying a very successful business.  Way to go Chapters!

Best of all, ALWAYS, are all the wonderful people I have the good fortune of meeting on this journey.  Joy, Christina, Tay, and little Rydlee are true rock stars in a bookstore that deserves to be recognized.  If you're in the Van Buren/Ft. Smith area and haven't been here yet, get with it.  Wander, explore, sip a coffee, and enjoy a truly terrific bookstore experience.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Bookish People, Susan Coll.  I had high hopes for this book because of the title but it fell way short.  The author's style didn't resonate with me and the writing was very pedestrian.  The story itself wandered all over the place.  Meh. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The Devil's Half Acre: The Untold Story Of How One Woman Liberated The South's Most Notorious Slave Jail, Kristen Green. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Cold Blooded, Anita Paddock. 

Beautiful storefront. 

Looking across the street from the bookstore you'll see this train station where tourists disembark several times a week and simply walk across the street to visit the bookstore. 


An attractive front patio, perfect for sipping your coffee on a beautiful day. 

I love the mural outside the bookstore on the front patio. 

AND the coffee!

Looking into the store from the front entrance. 

Table display of books by local authors just inside the store. 

Looking to the left from the front entrance. 

If you live in the Van Buren area you should definitely take advantage of this. 

A perfect place to sit inside the front door. 

I love these "blind book" mystery bag promos. 

Always good to know if a store offers used books. 

One of the many book nooks in the store. 

A thoughtful quote for those of us sorting through our piles of books waiting their turn. 

Proceeding through the store you'll come to the middle area, a sitting space for the cafe. 

An overview of the cafe space.

Standing guard over the front room. 

Kids will love this space in the cafe area. 

The cafe counter is at the back of the store. 

Looking from the back of the cafe toward the front room of the bookstore.  The stairs on the right will take you to a small upper level. 

I knew this was an award-winning store before I saw this. 

Nice view of the cafe counter from the top of the stairway. 

Looking into the upper level from the top of the stairs.  This was the apartment area for the previous owner. 

Overlooking the front room of the store toward the entrance from the upper level. 

I was very curious about these, called Slumberkins.  Very soft and they come with a book, I think kids would like them.  Not sure I've seen these anywhere yet. 

Overview of the expansive basement area. 

Lots of browsing in the lower level. 

What bell??

Ahh... THIS bell!  Ingenius!

One of the long book aisles on the lower level. 

Toward the back of the store on the lower level.  This is where you take a breath, turn around, and go down another book aisle. 

Nowhere to sit on the front patio?  Go downstairs and out the backdoor to this beautiful outside seating area. 

The lower level has comfy seating too. 

Also on the lower level, find this spacious multi-purpose area for groups, meetings, or events.  Ask the store about hosting your event here. 

From L-R:  Joy holding granddaughter Rydlee, Tay, and Christina.  Some of the fine people you'll meet at Chapters On Main.  Thanks for a great visit.