Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Green Dragon Bookshop - Ft. Dodge, IA

The Green Dragon Bookshop, Ft. Dodge, IA

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If someone told me that a bookstore in little Ft. Dodge, IA, population approximately 24,000, would be a success I’d probably shake my head.  If you continued to tell me that it wouldn't be a general bookstore but a niche store offering mostly sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, I’d probably say no way.  If there ever were any doubters they’re gone now because owner CoriAnn T. has really worked to position The Green Dragon as a noteworthy business and bookstore.  The store has been successful with the niche genres and is getting it all done in a space of only 300 square feet.  Keep in mind though that Green Dragon can order any book you want from any genre.  But with their niche genres they are now ready to enter the popular Halloween season which should bring a wave of seasonal business.  Change that “no way” to yes way!

Unlike Powell’s in Portland, OR, you won’t need a map of the store when you visit here.  What you see is what you get.  It’s small but some customers prefer the description cozy and I couldn’t agree more.  CoriAnn has done a great job with the small space offering a healthy inventory of new and used books shelved high around the store.  Green Dragon also offers vintage and collectible books.  The store no longer accepts used books from customers but will accept donated books if offered.  In keeping with the store’s theme, the sidelines here are called trinkets.  These include fantasy-themed candles, mini-posters, post cards, and of course stickers which are popular sellers.  If you want to support the store but can’t visit in person, consider placing an order online.  You can also order audio books online as well as store-themed t-shirts.  Looking to join a book club?  The store has several options.  Thankfully, Green Dragon has a large core of loyal regulars who enjoy visiting and patronizing the store in person.  Way to go, Ft. Dodge!

How lucky was I to see this store?  Owner CoriAnn was absent today and closed the store to customers so she sent her mother to open the store just for my visit.  Only at an independent bookstore!  CoriAnn has big plans for this downtown bookstore and you would be wise to visit Green Dragon now and follow their remarkable and promising adventure into the future.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Saving Emma, Allen Eskens. 

JUST FINISHED:  The River We Remember, William Kent Krueger.  Story that takes place in Jewel, MN, 1958.  Krueger totally nails small town life.  The town drunk, the sheriff and his dog, the local diner, and the river.  A person everyone hates is found dead in the river.  Was it a murder?  A suicide?  Many people had reason to want Jimmy Quinn dead but old biases blind people to the truth.  Absolutely love this author and this is his latest.  Recommended. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman.  

Green Dragon storefront. 


Right next door to the Green Dragon is a bakery.  What luck!  I call this a win-win!


Full window display space. 


Looking into the store from the front entrance. 
Many indies do the "blind date with a book promotion." At Green Dragon, it's called Mystery Date With a Spooky Book.  I love it! 
Attractive wall display just inside the entrance. 
Find this cart and stock up on sale books. 
If I were a regular, this would be my spot. 
Table display in the middle of the store. 
At The Green Dragon, the sidelines are called trinkets.  CoriAnn has done a great job with the theme throughout the store. 
The stickers are big sellers. 
An active events calendar. 
Overview of the store looking toward the front entrance. 
A few of the vintage and collectible editions. 

Trapped in the depths of The Green Dragon lair, this is my only hope for escape. 


Perfect fit for the store theme. 

Spooky and fantasy-themed candles. 


Some of the bookmarks offered are created by talented local students.  Impressive. 

Crochet for beginners

Children's books found on these shelves along the front wall. 

With RueAnn, one of the fine booksellers at The Green Dragon.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

The Willow Bookstore - Perham, MN

The Willow Bookstore, Perham, MN

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Owner Greta G. and I talked about the fact that the great thing about books is they never spoil.  Stock up, readers, you have nothing to worry about.  However, the same cannot be said about bookstore names.  The Willow Bookstore has an expiration date and it’s all about Greta putting her own stamp on the business.  Greta is the new owner here, taking over the business about 5 months ago.  A business that has been present on the busiest street in downtown Perham the past 5 years.  This entry will become somewhat dated next May 2024 when The Willow Bookstore becomes Big Pine Books, named after Big Pine Lake, an area outside of town where Greta grew up.  This is just one of the many new ideas that Greta is bringing to this store and community.

The one thing that won’t change are the terrific books you’ll find here.  Additionally, books and sidelines will continue to evolve with the name change.  There are a few used books here and that is a part of the business Greta hopes to expand.  Customers will receive store credit for books the store accepts.  Most of the sidelines here were present with the previous owner and Greta is hoping to move some of those along to make room for her new ideas.  Currently, you’ll find candles, bookstore socks, and tote bags.  When the name changes Greta plans to bring in Big Pine Books merch like shirts and/or hoodies, and/or totes, and much more.  She also hopes to provide stationery including journals, and plan books to name just a few.    Hopefully, she’ll be able to add events which may include open mic nights and music.  Greta has formed an ambitious and impressive plan. Well done!

So what does a new bookstore owner, with a background in library sciences, need to know when starting her bookstore business?  Despite Greta’s extensive educational background, she never took the class about becoming a barista.  But she’s tackled that problem enthusiastically and now serves coffee and lattes to customers as well as herself.  What a dream!  It seems she’s now the perfect fit for one who enjoys books and coffee.  Congratulations Greta.

Perham is a successful bookstore community in a small town that’s supplemented by throngs of summer tourists.  Find out what the regulars and tourists have discovered.  A super bookstore with an awesome owner.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir. 

CURRENTLY READING: The River We Remember, William Kent Krueger.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Book of Goose, Yiyum Li.  

Beautiful storefront in the heart of downtown Perham. 

I parked behind the bookstore and on my walk around to the front entrance enjoyed this absolutely remarkable mural. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance. 

View looking to the right from the front entrance. 

Over to the right after entering the store.  I was tempted. 

A great space in the front of the store to enjoy your latte and a book. 

Hey teachers in the Perham community, do you know about this? 

Attractive display of popular releases. 

If you bring your kids or grandkids into the store, ask them if they know what this is. 

Beautiful setting near the children's area. 

I love the hollow in that tree trunk. 

I have discovered that Minnesota has MANY wonderful authors. 

Go to this area in the back right of the store to browse some of the used books. 

Display of new releases. 

Quirky bookstore socks. 

Literary-themed candles. 

I think this would be a great poster for avid fishermen. 

A few of the non-fiction items of regional and local interest. 

Partial overview of the children's area. 

When I first saw these in a bookstore I thought they were fantastic.  Drool proof, chew proof, toddler proof. 

Another angle of the children's area. 

Partial overview of the coffee service area. 

I didn't get the story behind this but it made me curious. 

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

If you have kids or grandkids go to this area. 

With Greta, the fine owner at The Willow Bookstore.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Friday, October 13, 2023

Bluebird Books - Detroit Lakes, MN

Bluebird Books, Detroit Lakes, MN

 (Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Finally, Detroit lakes has its own, spanking brand new bookstore filling a void that has been missing here for several years.  And boy, did they do it right.  A perfect location on the downtown main street.  A gorgeous and bright interior that took a ton of work.  The pictures below won’t do it justice.  The organization is very neat and second to none.  And best of all, the two people I met were friendly and very knowledgeable.  Owner Amy E. And bookseller Mary were a delight to meet and visit with.  But if you’re a regular customer, NONE of this is news to you.  Unfortunately, this store is only about a year old and some haven’t discovered it yet.  Detroit Lakes, it’s time to get behind this terrific bookstore and support a place that completes the Detroit Lakes business district. 

When you visit Bluebird Books you’ll find a well-curated space with all new books.  If I were a regular I’d pick one out and go to the living room setting in the front of the store.  Always keep in mind that if you can’t visit in person you can always place an order on their website.  The cookbooks and Bibles sell especially well.  The sidelines are varied and displayed throughout the store.  Candles, many greeting cards, stickers, and varieties of chocolate to name a few (Mary talked me into one of the chocolate bars and it was out of this world.  Listen to Mary.).  One thing I enjoyed here are the many works of art in different mediums that feature local artists,  Amy does a great job of promoting local talent and offers her space as an option of making these works more visible and available for purchase.  Well done, Amy.  

Two of my favorite things here are located on opposite ends of the interior.   In the front of the store, I LOVE the floor to ceiling window of glass that makes up the store’s front wall.  Lots of light and a beautiful way to watch downtown Detroit Lakes.  Then go to the back of the store and see the most remarkable piece of art designed specifically for a bookstore.  A sculpture of a bluebird breaking through the wall, glasses on beak askew, reading To Kill A Mockingbird.  This creativity by a local artist is fabulous.

There's no resisting this cutie. 

Aside from those two things, I need to add a cherry on top of it all.  Bailey is the bookstore dog, a rescue, that belongs to Mary and greets the visitors.  As Mary told me, some people come in just to visit Bailey and I can see why, she’s a little charmer.  

Come for the books, the art, Bailey, or her people.  When you discover this place, I don’t think your first visit will be the last.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

JUST FINISHED:  The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule.  The author met and worked with Ted Bundy before he became the notorious suspect in multiple murders.  She stayed in contact with him and shares the sordid and disturbing story of Bundy’s savage journey and the attempt by prosecutors to connect all the dots.  Fascinating and upsetting on many levels.  The book though was about as long as it took Bundy’s multiple court appeals.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The River We Remember, William Kent Krueger. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Candy Club cinnamon spice almonds and two Hammond More S’mores bars.  All of these are but a mere memory now! 

One of my favorite things about this storefront is the floor to ceiling glass window. 

Twist my arm!

View looking into the store from the front entrance. 

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  I absolutely love this setting.  Two comfy chairs, fireplace, coffee table, and floor to ceiling front wall of glass to watch the town and the weather. 

Amy is a huge advocate for local artists and their work.  You'll see it displayed throughout the store.  Find something you like and buy it. 

Just a few of the greeting cards available. 

Display of various sidelines on the right wall of the store. 

Attractive table display with a little bit of everything. 

"Please Mr. Indie, I don't have time for a photo shoot I have customers to greet." 

Uniquely crafted soaps made just for Bluebird. 

The creative art in this store comes in many mediums. 

A long wall of bookshelves for leisurely browsing. 

Fun gift bags at the checkout counter. 

New releases display. 

Just a few of the art supplies offered.  Make your own creation and maybe it can be featured in the store. 

I bought one of these.  Highly recommended. 

If cinnamon almonds aren't your thing, try some taffy. 

Make sure to take notice of the incredible art work displayed throughout the store. 

Partial view of the children's area. 

A beautiful touch in the children's area. 

One of the most beautiful sculptures of original artwork done especially for a bookstore I've ever seen.  The artist is Hans Gildorf from right in Detroit Lakes.  You need to see this in person.  Just stunning. 

Side view perspective. 

Hey Detroit Lakes, get your Bluebird merch and represent. 

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

Lots of gift ideas for kids. 

The artwork on this mug was created by a local high school student who now has her own successful business.  Very impressive. 

Just a few of the books in the store by local authors.  I've learned along my journey that Minnesota has MANY excellent authors. 

Gorgeous display of handmade unique tapas plates created by Ellen Moses using impressions from local tree leaves.  Her studio is right in Detroit Lakes. 

Another view of the beautiful sculpture in the back of the store with Mary on the left. 

With owner Amy in the middle and bookseller Mary on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at Bluebird Books.  Thanks for a great visit.