Monday, April 29, 2024

The Press - Valparaiso, IN

The Press, Valparaiso, IN

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

You’ve probably heard the expression, “don’t put the cart ahead of the horse,” or a variation of that.  Well, that’s how they rolled when owner Dia and husband John decided to open a bookstore in Valparaiso.  Dia knew that she didn’t want to open a bookstore without a coffee shop.  Enter son Ben M., a student at Valparaiso University.  While there, he became interested in roasting coffee beans and did so in his dorm room with an old popcorn popper.  This endeavor became so popular that it outgrew the dorm room.  Fast forward to today and Dia had the coffee shop part easily solved by Ben, his friends, and his expertise.  In this case, the cart before the horse worked perfectly.  Judging by the crowd on this weekday morning, the coffee, the bookstore, and the coffee shop are very popular.  Well done, Dia.

The Press is now one-year old but before opening they had to do major interior renovations that took about four months.  Their work paid off and the results are a beautiful and comfy space.  Located in the heart of downtown Valpo, the foot traffic is excellent and it helps that the store is surrounded by many restaurants and successful businesses.  In addition to a strong core of regulars (if you’re a regular, make sure you ask about the loyalty program), they also see many customers from the Valpo University community, some who are here because of Ben’s coffee enterprise while he was a student there.  

The store offers all new books and an excellent variety of sidelines.  Of course, the stickers are hot but they also offer a good line of store merch, greeting cards, puzzles, and adult coloring books to name just a few.  If you can’t visit the store in person you always have the option of purchasing online.  In their short year of operation they already have multiple book clubs, host a story time, and hold events.  My favorite event that they hold every Thursday-Saturday is a wine tasting time.  A popular local winery provides the wine and you can sip and browse.  As Dia said, this is great for people who might have a 30-minute wait for their table at a nearby restaurant.  

Again, readers, these bookstore visits cannot be duplicated with an online click and submit.  When you visit The Press and meet Dia along with bookseller Amber I can guarantee an experience that will have you coming back to visit over and over.  Coffee, books, wine, and best of all terrific people.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

JUST FINISHED:  Under The Henfluence, Tove Danovich.  The author’s heartwarming story of leaving Brooklyn for Oregon and the beginning of her adventure of raising backyard chickens.  Chickens have received a bum rap over the centuries and Tove sets the record straight about chickens, the myths, the facts, and the disturbing conditions with corporate chicken facilities.  For chicken enthusiasts, a must-read.  For the rest of us, informative and inspirational.  I enjoyed it.    

CURRENTLY READING:  Neighbors and Other Stories, Diane Oliver.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Parable Of The Talents, Octavia E. Butler.  Hell's Princess, Harold Schechter.   


My prediction is that when the weather turns nice this outdoor seat area will be packed. 
Storefront with maximum window space for lots of natural light on the inside. 


Looking straight through the store from the front entrance. 


Unique table display of books and some sidelines inside the front entrance and in the cafe seating area. 


Alongside the right wall just after entering. 


Customer-friendly display with adult coloring books and books with stickers to name a few. 


A wall of books just inside the entrance.  It's not a swimming pool but I would dive right in anyway!


We've all done this. 
Overview of the cafe seating area in the front of the store. 


Display of popular releases. 


Head to this counter to order your coffee drink. 


The bad news is that you've missed the April events.  The good news is that there will be more in May. 


Show-off your beverages in these uber cool merch containers made by a local artist.


If you know someone who likes stickers, here is a book of stickers you use to create your own art. 


The store recognizes and partners with the local library.  Nice. 


I love the store merch. 


Taylor Swift items have been popular.  I think this would be popular at any bookstore. 


More than just coffee at this bookstore cafe.  Yes please. 


A portion of the bookshelves on the rear left wall. 


Should I just get cases of this book and hand out as needed??


A few of the greeting cards available. 


An overview of the children's area. 


I can confirm that they have bathrooms AND are creatively labeled. 


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

A few of the books of local and regional interest. 

The perfect comfy seat for you, your book, and your coffee. 
...or stretch out here if you dare. 
I've always felt the silent book club is a great event for those indies who are able to offer it. 

This is a cool artistic representation of Ben and his friends in his dorm room, the birthplace of the coffee business that is enjoyed by many at The Press. 

With Dia, the fine co-owner at The Press.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Monday, April 22, 2024

The Nook Bookstore - Cedar Falls, IA

The Nook Bookstore, Cedar Falls, IA

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

Cedar Falls, IA is one of the towns I’ve kept an eye on for a long time because I couldn’t believe they didn’t have a bookstore.  After all, Cedar Falls has a healthy population of approximately 40,000 and is home to a major university, the University of Northern Iowa (UNI).  Husband/wife owners Brandon and Abby thought the same thing and decided to take action.  They decided to jump in with both feet and thanks to Abby’s dad, Brandon’s sister, and other relatives (it takes a village, as you indie owners know) their dreams were realized with a now 5-month old bookstore that is off to a fantastic start and doing very well.  Way to go, Cedar Falls!

When you enter this store, the organization is very apparent.  In general, books on the right, sidelines and gifts on the left.  The one-level space offers all new books with the exception of a few used books accepted as donations only.  Slowly but surely, they’re widening their scope that just lately began to offer online sales.  They've recently hired an events coordinator that will soon become part of the store’s vision.  The Nook already has three book clubs and that number will soon expand.  And most exciting of all, the store will soon be expanding its space into an empty store next door.  They hope to offer a cafe service, expanded hours, and of course more books, possibly including more used books.

The first thing I thought of when I saw the sidelines was, man, they sure do have a lot of candles.  Well DUH, that’s because Brandon makes them!  What a great way to reduce overhead.  They have the same quirky names as candles found in other bookstores.  In fact, you might see some of Brandon’s candles that he’s sold to other bookstores.  And if you have a quirky name for a candle he can personalize it for you.  Brandon’s wife Abby also creates sidelines for the store including earrings, tote bags, and t-shirts to name just a few. 

The Nook has a great location on Main St. in downtown Cedar Falls surrounded by many interesting and unique small businesses, making foot traffic very attractive and easy.  The store has a solid core of regulars and sees customers from the university community as well.  Despite that, I’m sure that there are many more new customers that need to discover this terrific bookstore.  Check The Nook out and enjoy this new business that completes the downtown community.  Congratulations Brandon and Abby!  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Still True, Maggie Ginsberg.  The small town of Anthem, WI is a place for small-town secrets and curious relationships.  A married couple that doesn’t live together; a school administrator with an alcoholic wife; their small child who is the best friend of a lonely fix-it man; and his wife with many secrets in her past he never knew of.  Another great Wisconsin author.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Under The Henfluence, Tove Danovich.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  All The Sinners Bleed, S. A. Crosby.  


Brandon and Abby are very excited about The Nook's future.  This is a "before" picture.  Very soon, the bookstore will be expanding into the business on the right. 


 A portion of the display window space. 

Creatively designed sidewalk sign. 

Father's Day is right around the corner.  The Nook has you covered. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance. 

Looking to the right from the front entrance. 

Lots of gift ideas immediately to the left after entering. 

Check out all these candles.  And these are only some of them in.  Brandon makes many of the candles, a huge benefit for the store since he's the co-owner. 

They even have "staff pick" candles.  I love it!

Attractive table display of new releases inside the front entrance. 

Yes, they have candles!  And Brandon can create one and give it whatever quirky name you want. 

Along the right side of the store.  The store will soon expand its space into the empty adjacent business behind this wall. 

Of course!

It's always fun when you visit a bookstore to find out what the book clubs are reading. 

Pineapple and coconut lip balm?  Who knew!

It's tulip season and this bookstore has them right next to the checkout counter. 

Display of books near the checkout counter. 

Display of unique books and candles.

Just a few of the books of local and regional interest. 

Nice arrangement of books in the children's area. 

The perfect setting to enjoy a book, in the back of the store. 

Overview of the back of the store. 

View looking from the back of the store toward the front entrance.  Some readers might recognize The Indie Bob Spot Director and Bookstore Ambassador, Michelle T. 

Yes, you will need a tote bag for all of your books. 

This dragon helps convey the fantasy/sci-fi section.  Brandon has some great recommendations in these genres. 
If you're on a budget, go back to the front of the store and browse these carts of used books. 


With Brandon on the right, the fine co-owner of The Nook Bookstore.  Thanks for a great visit.