Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Honest Dog Books - Bayfield, WI

Honest Dog Books, Bayfield, WI

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Very few bookstore owners go into the business with previous bookstore experience.  Most of them come from backgrounds that have nothing to do with books.  I've met doctors, teachers, lawyers, and accountants to name just a few that came to a bookstore from another field.  But never in my now over 500 visits have I met anyone that came to their store ownership from the world of dog mushing.  Ok, ok, owners Julie and her family aren't professional dog mushers but I found it fascinating that they are active with this hobby in addition to owning a bookstore.  You never know who you're going to meet in a bookstore  or what you're going to learn.  All the more reason why visiting a bookstore is so much more rewarding than ordering a book from you-know-who online.

Julie and her family bought this business 2 1/2 years ago and renamed the store, Honest Dog Books (previously named, What Goes Round Used Books).  The timing wasn't the best because of the oncoming pandemic, BUT as Julie told me it really worked out well allowing them to organize, inventory the 10,000 used books, set up their online sales, and generally get their crap together.  The online sales have done very well thanks to having their entire inventory of all used and new books posted and available.  Very impressive.

Enjoy a rustic, wooden beams and floors space that is very much in tune with the region.  It has a genuine outdoorsy Great Lakes wilderness vibe.  Lots of little nooks and crannies with used and new books shelved together.  Customers can bring in their books for store credit or cash but Honest Dog will be particular about what they take.  One of the hot sidelines are the unique cribbage boards made from recycled paper.  They also offer puzzles, greeting cards, maple syrup, and bookstore stocking caps and hoodies appropriate for this part of the country.

The most impressive thing here is that Honest Dog Books is one of 4 indies in Bayfield county, along Lake Superior.  Impressive because the population is only about 16,000.  Are you kidding me?  FOUR indies for 16,000 people?  There are towns triple this size with nothing!  Way to go Bayfield county!  Of course the tourists help but this is truly remarkable.  If you live elsewhere, in a bookstore desert, take heart.  Small populations can pull this off with the right people who are determined to do so.  Just ask Julie.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

JUST FINISHED:  The Sentence, Louise Erdrich.  A Native American woman is released from incarceration and ends up working in a bookstore in Minneapolis, coincidentally very similar to Birchbark Books which is owned by the author.  The store and the characters are forced to deal with the pandemic and the George Floyd murder and resulting protests. Timely and current.  A lot going on in this book on many levels, written by a renowned author. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The Lincoln Highway, Amor Towles. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Last Report On The Miracles At Little No Horse, Louise Erdrich.  We Die Alone, David Howarth.  A souvenir Honest Dog t-shirt.  


I always enjoy seeing the creative murals on the exterior of bookstores who are able to do this.  This one seems fitting. 


Entrance and storefront. 


View looking into the store from the front entrance. 


View looking to the left into the store from the front entrance.  The wooden floors, shelves, and beams give it a very north woodsy vibe. 


I don't know the story behind this carving but I really like it. 


This is immediately to the right of the entrance. 


These shelves are immediately to the left from the entrance. 
The official Honest Dog, Matty P.  Ask Julie about this celebrity sled dog. 


One of the many nooks and aisles in the store. 


Just a few of the items of local interest. 


What?  You've never seen a frog in a bookstore?  On a shelf?  Scanning for a book?


Earrings available here. 


The store just recently started offering a variety of greeting cards. 


Interestingly, I've not been able to find bookstore stocking caps in southern indies.  But a great sideline here. 


Partial view of the children's area. 


Another angle of the children's area. 


Maybe Julie's used this dog sled hanging from the rafters?


The store has some music on vinyl.  Anyone ever hear of Rex Allen Jr?


One of the long book aisles. 


I love the ceiling beams and timbers. 


I don't play cribbage but I think these locally crafted unique cribbage boards are outstanding. 


If you enter from the backside, this is how it looks. 


A few steps beyond the backdoor will take you to this very large storage space and eventual event center, owned by Honest Dog.  A great arrangement. 


Eventually, all of these steps will have recreated book titles. 


Some of the books already stored in this large space. 


This is why I love getting greeting cards in bookstores. 


Locally made syrup, not available as a sideline in other parts of the country.


This was the name of the store before Julie's family bought the business and it became Honest Dog Books. 
With Julie, the fine owner at Honest Dog Books.  Thanks for a great visit. 

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