Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Apostle Islands Booksellers - Bayfield, WI

Apostle Islands Booksellers, Bayfield, WI

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This journey began 499 bookstores ago and with this visit to Apostle Islands Booksellers located on the shores of Lake Superior in Bayfiled, WI, my 500th bookstore visit is the cherry on top of an epic saga (marathon?  exercise in futility?) which I hope to continue.  I can't think of a more charming bookstore than this cute little button on the main street through town that leads right to the lake.  Apostle Islands is now 12 years old, succeeding despite harsh winters, a small community (approximately 600), and a pandemic.  What a tribute to this fine store and staff worthy of any town regardless of population.  This indie has evolved over the years from a store that featured mostly regional and nature works to a general interest bookstore offering books that can be found nationally.  The fuel that propels this engine?  Tourists, especially during the summer months but don't be fooled by just the tourists.  This indie has a solid core of local regulars that help sustain it through the off season, just like other successful indies around the country. 

This one-level store offers all new books and a nice variety of sidelines.  As Kristen the store manager told me, the sidelines are always a crap shoot to discover what sells just as they are at other indies.  I was happy to hear though that the sidelines are not crucial to the store's business as they are at some bookstores.  The Blackwing pencils are popular here and they also offer bookstore mugs, stickers, puzzles, and bookstore socks to name just a few.  Events are few but there are some outstanding regional authors like Nickolas Butler, Leif Enger, and Michael Perry who come here.  If you haven't checked these authors out yet, I encourage you to do so.  I really enjoy them.

A big thank you to Kristen and bookseller Madeline for making my 500th bookstore visit enjoyable and memorable.  Meeting people like these are what makes bookstores so fun and so much BETTER than ordering a book online.

If you're in the Bayfield area or going their for vacation, check this place out.  I guarantee you'll have a great bookstore experience.  Your first visit here will be just as good as my 500th.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Music Shop, Rachel Joyce.  Recommended to me by dear friends Big Jill and Cheryl M. and they were right.  The delightful, but sometimes sad, story of Frank and his friends who all own small businesses.  Frank owns a music shop that sells only music on vinyl and he refuses to change with the times.  He can always find the right music for anyone, and is always quick to help all.  But will he allow a strange woman to help him?  A great story.  This book will have you looking online to hear the many songs Frank recommends to others.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The Sentence, Louise Erdrich. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Virgil Wander, Leif Enger.  

Located in historic downtown Bayfield.
One of the beautiful front display windows. 
View looking straight into the bookstore from the front entrance. 
Looking to the right from the front entrance. 
Looking to the left after entering the store. 
Tourists should pick up a notebook and journal about their vacations here, write the book, and sell it here. 
Find this section of local interests and local authors near the front of the store. 
Here's your impulse buy (after the book), crazy bookstore socks located conveniently at the checkout counter. 
I'm no expert on mugs, but it does look pretty good to me. 
Many indies offer the popular bookstore candles. 
The Blackwing pencils are selling very well.  Find them at the front counter. 

For those of us who misplace and break readers, this is a welcome sight (get it?  SIGHT?!!  Glasses?!  Just humor me people).
Attractive table display of popular releases.
View looking into the children's section. 


Step into the children's section and take a look at this incredible mural.  So much going on in this very creative work by a local author. 


Display of books of local interest. 


Follow this hallway to the back room. 


Overview of the back room...


... and a quiet place to sit and try out a book. 


A few of the postcards available. 


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


Just one of the social causes observed by Apostle Islands. 


Do you know a Badger fan?  Send them here. 


If you live near Bayfield or visit regularly, this is a must have. 


When you come here you'll be visiting an award-winning store.


With Kristen, the fine store manager you'll meet at Apostle Islands Booksellers.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Chequamegon Book Co - Washburn, WI


Chequamegon Book Co, Washburn, WI

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One of the joys of this journey is hearing the stories of the owners and the bookstores.  I never get tired of this and even though I didn't meet Richard and Carol, the husband/wife owners of Chequamegon Book Company (pronounced, "sha-wahma-gann"), the bookstore has a long history as do the owners.  Richard was the long-time owner of Avol's Bookstore in Madison, WI.  Avol's was located downtown in a busy and vibrant college town.  In 1995 they decided they needed a "calmer" environment, sold the bookstore in Madison, brought some of the inventory with them, and moved to this small town of approximately 2000 in extreme northern Wisconsin located on the shore of Lake Superior.  They own the bookstore building and live above the bookstore, a perfect arrangement.  Kickin' butt in Washburn since 1995 and still looking for new customers.

Chequamegon Books is a large bookstore on the main street through town .  The inventory includes about 80,000 books on site and another 40,000 off site in storage, or as Richard calls it, job security (given the approximate numbers, this is about 60 books for every man, woman, and child in Washburn).  Customers can receive store credit or cash depending on the books they bring in.  They also offer a few new books.

The success of this store is largely reliant on tourists, many of whom come to this area as environmental tourists.  Many of the regulars here are those people who visit annually.  If you can't visit the store, consider purchasing online through various platforms.  This is also a good way to view their online inventory and check out their vintage and collectible editions.

If the owners aren't here, the rock star you'll meet is Britton.  She is fantastic to talk to and she'll be able to give you some good book recommendations.  But as she told me, unbelievably the store doesn't attract as many locals as it would like.  Part of that is not only the small population of Washburn but the small population of the county.  So while the slogan for tourists might be "discover Wisconsin," the slogan for locals might be, "Discover Chequamegon Books!"  If you're in Washburn or Bayfield County, check out this wonderful bookstore and find out what the tourists have discovered.  A super bookstore with a great team of people.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Sooley, John Grisham.  Story of a family in South Sudan and their son who is a rising basketball star hoping to go to the US and play in college and dream of the NBA.  But there are problems for his family in South Sudan due to war which leaves Sooley torn.  Can he make it in college?  In the NBA?  I like John Grisham and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  Basketball fans especially will like this.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The Music Shop, Rachel Joyce. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Maybe I'll Pitch Forever, Leroy (Satchel) Paige.  Fire Keeper's Daughter, Angeline Boulley. 


The bookstore is housed in this historic building built in the late 19th century.  The entire ground floor is the bookstore. 

My happy sign. 


View looking into the store from the front entrance. 

View looking to the right from the front entrance. 

Always good to now.  Remember, the store also carries some new books. 

Head over to the left side of the store and begin your browse. 

The store is floor to ceiling books so the rolling ladders will come in handy. 

Partial view of the children's section which is located immediately to the right after entering and then in the front of the store. 

Looking into the room on the right in the front of the store. 

I could put in some good reading time here. 

This room has some 95¢ bargains. 

Overview of the room on the right side of the store. 

You must know someone who would enjoy the multiple volumes of The Oxford English Dictionary?

One of my favorite pictures in any bookstore. 

View of the back room which is a recent addition. 

Looking to the right as you enter the back room.

Look for this interesting title in the back room. 

Come to this back room for CDs. 

The very back of the bookstore. 

This reader took a break from eating berries and came in to look for a book.  All are welcomed here. 

Lots of maps offered here. 

The only upstairs is in this new room at the back of the store.  This is an overview of that room. 

Two great places to sit and a nice view looking out the window. 

An overview of the new addition looking down from the 2nd floor.  Notice the brick, which was the exterior of the building before the addition. 

Indies are renowned for their community causes.  Way to go, Chequamegon. 

With Britton, the fine store manager at Chequamegon Book Co.  Thanks for a great visit.