Thursday, September 21, 2023

Grass Roots Books & Music - Corvallis, OR

Grass Roots Books & Music, Coravallis, OR

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I’ve always said that any town with a major college that doesn’t have an independent bookstore is missing a big piece in their community.  When I drove into downtown Corvallis I could tell immediately that I was in a college town, home of Oregon State University.  Quirky one-of-a-kind shops, 2nd hand stores, bars, cool coffee shops, cafes, and a very hip bookstore.  Husband and wife owners Jack and Sandy must be doing something right because the store has been here since 1971 with a great location in the busy downtown district.  I didn’t get to meet them today so bookseller Frank was my welcoming and knowledgeable Grass Roots tour guide.

This bookstore has two, long adjacent rooms filled with new books and many sidelines.  Most of the books are in the left room and most of the sidelines are in the right room with a little bit of overlap.  You’ll find the children’s area in the right room in the back.  Even though music is in the store name, the advent of streaming slowly changed this part of the business.  My guess is the room on the right housed the music.  Sidelines included a well-stocked inventory of greeting cards, bookstore candles, journals, 2024 calendars, and assorted smaller items unique to independent bookstores.  Their puzzles sell well and were important during the pandemic.  And if you can’t make it to the store, you can go to the website and place an order online, an important part of their business.  The store’s location also benefits when the farmer’s market happens, right behind the store.  

Grass Roots doesn’t host frequent events but will occasionally host visiting authors that come to the university.  I was surprised when Frank told me that the university is not a major part of the customer base.  Instead, many of the regulars are older, some who go back decades to the store’s early years. 

Readers, whenever you visit a college town make sure you ALWAYS find the independent bookstore.  And if that is Corvallis, OR, Grass Roots Books & Music is that place.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  I Must Be Dreaming, Roz Chast.  The New Yorker cartoonist has put out some of my favorite books including this new one.  I love her artwork and her humor and this one shows her wide-variety of dreams in cartoon form.  Also look for her book, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant.  Both are outstanding.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  Paper Lion, George Plimpton. 

Beautiful sidewalk banner. 

I love this part of the sign at the top of the store. 

One of the large display windows. 

During the summer season, browsing almost always begins before entering any bookstore. 

Looking into the store from the front entrance. 

This sounds like a great deal to me. 

View looking to the left after entering.

Beautiful display with Ann Patchett's new release, Tom Lake. 

Continuing through toward the back half of the store from the main entrance.  This is still the room on the left. 

View looking into the room on the right. 

This is the front of the room on the right. 

Puzzles are good sellers here and were an important part of the business during the pandemic for many indies. 

The room on the right, looking front to back. 

I find items in bookstores that I never see elsewhere. 

Find this display for some bargains. 

Just a few of the greeting cards available. 

Overview of the children's area, in the right room. 

The only thing missing in this picture is you with your book. 

A helpful direction. 

Display of bestsellers in the Pacific Northwest. 

Selected recommendations from npr. 

Popular bookstore-themed candles available here. 

Uh oh.  Telltale clue that I might be in a college town. 

An assortment of magazines offered. 

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

A nice view of the front area and Frank waiting to process your purchase. 

With Frank on the left, one of the fine booksellers at Grass Roots Books & Music.  Thanks for a great visit.

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