Sunday, October 1, 2023

Turtle Town Books & Gifts - Nisswa, MN

Turtle Town Books & Gifts, Nisswa, MN

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I always hope on my bookstore visits that I’m able to meet the owner but know that isn’t always possible.  Turtle Town owner Doug Miller passed away in March of 2003 so I’m a few months too late to meet him.  But I know his presence and footprint is felt throughout the store, with the staff, and with wife Mary.  His gift to us all will continue to be a charming independent bookstore in a quaint Main St. in downtown Nisswa.  I know he was more than this from his memorial scrapbook in the bookstore.  Check it out for a life well-lived.  To Doug.

Turtle Town has been around for over 10 years and it is one of the MANY businesses located on Main St., or as I call it, a “shopper’s paradise.”  The bookstore caters to a large influx of tourists year-round but especially during the summers.  Even though Nisswa has a population of less than 2000, they have a strong core of regulars as well as many from the surrounding communities.  These customers enter a neat, one-level space with all new books and a plethora of sidelines.  As with many indies,, the greeting cards and puzzles sell extremely well.  Bookseller Lisa told me that customers often say that Turtle Town has the best assortment of greeting cards in the region.  The store has not resumed any kind of a regular events schedule since the pandemic but one of my favorite authors who lives in Minnesota, William Kent Krueger, has been here many times.  

In general, the front half of the store is books and the back half is children’s items.  Kids are going to love this place.  In addition to the children’s books, there are numerous sidelines including a line of Melissa and Doug items, games, novelties, stuffed animals, and much more.  If you vacation to this area with your family, this store is a must-see.  

Doug’s passing has left a void in this store for wife Mary and the staff.  Lisa even told me that annual tourist regulars would ask, where’s the tall guy.  Take a moment and pause when you visit Turtle Town.  He’s here and maybe will even inspire you to the perfect books or gift.  Make sure to visit this indie on your next visit to northwestern Minnesota.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule. 

Doug and wife Mary were the founders of this great bookstore.  Relatives, friends, and customers remember him fondly and miss him terribly.  I never met Doug but I know enough that his was a life well-lived. 

Beautiful storefront on the busiest street in Nisswa. 

The triplets of display windows. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance. 

Looking to the left from the front entrance. 

Front of the store along the right wall.  You'll find a variety of sidelines before you get to the books. 

This is looking behind the front display windows.  This picture doesn't capture the beautiful sparkle of all the little lights. 

An overview looking further into the store on the left. 

Books for anxious children at the start of school. 

Take a nice long browse along the left wall of the store. 

Some classic games available. 

Display of paperback bestsellers and staff picks. 

More games!

An overview of the front half of the store looking toward the entrance. 

A Pretend-To-Spend wallet with pretend to spend money.  Yes please. 

Turtle Town has some of the best greeting cards in the area. 

Overview of the back half of the store.  Children will love this area. 

Attractive display of coffee table books (I didn't see Kramer's book here). 

Just a few of the puzzles offered. 

Looking into a portion of the children's section. 

There's my chair. 

If you have a child ready to tackle Harry Potter, here you go. 

Hey parents, mind the kids!

I really liked this bench and took the picture because to me, it seemed to resonate with this region of northern Minnesota. 

This is a small, private, hideaway room for kids. 

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

Good grief, I think this was a classic when I was a kid.  Anyone else?   Published in 1947.  Good gawd, it was old by the time I got to it. 

With Lisa displaying a recommended book for kids.  One of the fine booksellers you'll meet at Turtle Town Books & Gifts.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Tsunami Books - Eugene, OR

Tsunami Books, Eugene, OR

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What are the chances?  I can travel far and wide and still I can stumble onto such coincidental experiences.  One of the booksellers I met here was Steve E., who immediately and without hesitation told me he was from Iowa, grew up in Des Moines, and even attended the University of Iowa for his undergrad degree.  We’d never met but it was already turning into an Iowa reunion.  He even said that Eugene is the Oregon version of Iowa City.  His graduate studies and travels took him throughout Great Britain so we enjoyed a wonderful conversation about bookstores in that part of the world.  Now he’s a bookseller, editor, and budding author with a book already published titled, Mole.  Another segment of the bookstore is their publishing service, Tsunami Press.  Steve has edited two of their publications including a new anthology coming in November and now available for pre-order, Bookstore Clerks and Significant Others.  This sounds like a great anthology for bookstore enthusiasts.  Readers, why oh why would anyone want to order a book from a discount website when you can have fun like this at an independent bookstore!

You know they’re doing something right since Tsunami Books has been open for almost 28 years.  The store doesn’t look extraordinary from the outside but when you enter it opens up into two large rooms.  Tsunami is packed with new and used books and as Laura told me, you won’t pick up a dusty book smell in here because they wipe down all the used books that come in.  Customers can receive cash or trade for the books they bring in.  Online sales are a daily and important part of their business.  In addition to the new and used books, make sure you ask about their vintage and collectible editions if that is your interest.  There are a few sidelines here including locally created art, pottery, candles, and greeting cards to name a few.  You’ll also find an assortment of music on vinyl.

One of the nice things here are the frequent events, especially live music.  They have a large space that can be cleared and a nice small stage in one corner of the room.  They also welcome creative writing students and their professors from the University of Oregon to do readings.  

Scott L. has been the owner here for many years but he wasn’t in on the day of my visit.  No worries because meeting Steve and bookseller Laura was enjoyable 10-fold.  Wonderful people who were engaging, conversant, and oh so nice.  The perfect recipe for any bookstore and any bookstore visitor.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Paper Lion, George Plimpton.  Arguably, the author's most famous book published in 1966.  Plimpton's own account of what it's like to be an amateur who tries to survive the rigors of pre-season training and the hope of getting in for a few plays with the Detroit Lions.  A great look inside professional football at that time and everything it entails.  A must-read for football fans. This also became a popular movie.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan.  The Night Always Comes, Willy Vlautin. (Read this one a few weeks ago and I thought it was great).  Not purchased but gifted, Mole, Steve Gromert Ellerhoff.  Thanks Steve.  

I love this storefront.  Walk around to the side to enter. 
This is the entrance on the side of the building. 

Just a portion of the beautiful outdoor gardening work that Scott has done.  

In addition to the wonderful landscaping, the exterior also features unique and creative murals. 

Collectors should pay this store a visit. 

View looking into the store from the entrance. 

One of the long book aisles you'll enjoy browsing. 

Looking directly to the left from the entrance. 

New book display with several shelf-talkers indicating staff recommendations. 

After you enter the store, go to the left and you'll enter this room.  You'll enjoy the many posters on the ceiling and throughout the store. 

Used book staff favorites. 

Always one of my favorite pictures but the ceiling posters make this one unique. 

Unbelievably creative.  This seems very fitting for an Oregon bookstore. 

Attractive table display of staff picks. 

An overview of the room to the left after you enter the store. 

Along with the posters you'll enjoy throughout the store you'll also see historic headlines. 

Just a few of the audio books offered. 

Overview of the children's area. 

Little chairs for little readers. 

Many bookstores are like museums where you never know what you'll see and always discovering something new on each visit. 

An overview of the room near the entrance. 

Locally created greeting cards. 

Works of art in a variety of mediums can be seen throughout the store. 

Just some of the music on vinyl offered. 

This corner is where events are staged.

View of the store from the stage.  Authors, this is your view when you talk about your book. 

Read the book in a theater seat. 

See picture below. 

Original works of stoneware pottery.  If you don't want one for yourself it would make a great gift. 

If you're a regular at Tsunami this is a must. 

With Laura in the center and Steve on the right, two of the fine booksellers you'll meet at Tsunami Books.  Thanks for a great visit.