Friday, June 14, 2024

Flagship Books - Kansas City, KS

Flagship Books, Kansas City, KS

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The co-owners at Flagship Books make a perfect team for bookstore ownership, each with their own individual talents that make it an excellent fit.  Ty M. teaches English away from the bookstore making him the “book” person.  Joel M.’s job away from the bookstore is in real estate making him the “business” person of the team.  Best of all, these owners are brothers which adds up to a successful combination for owning a bookstore.  Congratulations Ty, Joel, and Strawberry Hill.  

Flagship Books and its owners have been on quite a journey in its short existence.  The current location in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood is the 3rd location in three years.  Initially, the bookstore was operating out of a shipping container.  With that beginning, the name of the store became Flagship and it took on a nautical theme.  Then they moved to a space not far from the current location, which is now the best yet with an improved and larger space.

The current space is stocked with new and used books, generally organized with new books on the left side of the store and used books on the right.  Customers who bring in books can receive store credit in return but some customers simply donate their books.  There are a few sidelines including stickers, greeting cards, journals, and puzzles but this indie is mostly books.  I thought the used books were very well-curated.  Best of all for the store’s location is the monthly art walk held in the neighborhood which helps bring customers into the store.  

This is a true neighborhood bookstore and many of its customers can easily walk here form the many nearby residential streets.  But you know what?  You don’t have to be a neighbor to visit this bookstore.  Heck, I drove all the way here to pay a visit so certainly anybody in the nearby Kansas City area could do the same.  Easy, free on-street parking makes it a cinch.   Pay brothers Ty and Joel a visit and enjoy another one of Kansas City’s fine independent bookstores.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

JUST FINISHED:  Wellness, Nathan Hill.  Story of two students living across from each other in downtown Chicago.  They meet, date, marry, have a troublesome toddler, and the marriage begins to wane.  This book started out good for me but really bogged down into boring by halfway through.  I did like this author’s previous novel, The Nix.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Small Mercies, Dennis Lehane.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:   The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin. 


The only thing missing from this picture is you and your book. 

Some great bargains before you even enter the store. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance. 

Yes, yes, and yes. 

Head over to the left side of the store for this display of a few of the books by local authors

Go for a browse along the left wall of bookshelves that offers all new books. 

A few of the puzzles offered. 

Near the front of the store are a variety of plants available for sale as part of another business. 

Always consider joining your local book club. 

Just a few of the stickers. 

I love this map of Kansas City that you can see on the right wall but this wasn't planned by the bookstore.  It was here for the real estate office that used to be in this space.

An overview of the middle of the store and a neat sitting area. 

Looking into the children's corner of the store. 

Young readers and young at heart readers should go to these shelves. 

A great room and space for friends, groups, or book clubs. 

A few of the greeting cards available. 

An overview on the right side of the store. 

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

This is the kind of crowd found monthly on the street in front of the store, the art walk.  What a great event and boost for the bookstore. 

With Joel on the left and Ty on the right, the fine co-owners at Flagship Books.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Story Collective - St. Joseph, MO

The Story Collective, St. Joseph, MO

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Thank goodness St. Joseph has an Ashley D. to provide something desperately needed in this community.  St. Joe is a town of about 70,000, more than enough to support an independent bookstore.  Several years before The Story Collective, there was nothing here but now thanks to Ashley, The Story Collective was born about 7 months ago providing a bookstore experience to a grateful group of readers in St. Joe AND the surrounding communities.  Best of all, the bookstore is off to a great start and things are going very well.  But, as with all new indies, The Story Collective patiently waits to be discovered by more local customers.  

This terrific new bookstore has a great location in a downtown that is continuing to try and generate more business and retail growth.  The one-level space offers all new books and a very tasteful (especially the caramels!) variety of sidelines.  The nice thing about this historic building (1899) is that Ashley has some flexibility within the building for future bookstore creativity.  The bookshelves and labeling are attractively arranged throughout the store, including the children’s section.  The store offers a monthly story time for children on the first Saturday of every month and is also active with author signing events.  As for sidelines, of course the stickers are hot but they also offer locally created caramels, puzzles, t-shirts, and many summer and travel-themed items like unique flashlights, travel and hiking cups, and car travel games to name just a few.  I especially liked the unique candles here, described as 20-minute candles.  

So, what’s the final Indie Bob Spot bookstore rating for The Story Collective?  Outstanding in every way and the kind of store that should be embraced for years to come.  Hey St. Joe, you’ve got a keeper with The Story Collective.  Pay Ashley a visit and enjoy meeting a friendly and knowledgeable owner as you explore a leisurely and rewarding bookstore experience.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir. 

JUST FINISHED:  Bellows Falls, Archer Mayor.  This is an example of an author I discovered that is very popular in a specific region of the country.  Most of his novels take place in Vermont and are police procedural works.  Joe Gunther is the detective trying to put away a drug dealer but can't pin him down with firm evidence.  There is also a cop on the force who might be helping this guy along with some juvenile delinquents in the community.  If you like these kind of books, this author has a whole series featuring this detective.  Looking for a new author?  Check this guy out, I thought the book was great. 

CURRENTLY READING:  Wellness, Nathan Hill. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Starter Villain, John Scalzi. 


Another view of the storefront in downtown St. Joseph.  The upstairs floor is vacant as is the rear of the building giving Ashley some flexibility for future plans. 

A portion of the expansive display window space. 

Create your own art on the sidewalk outside of the store. 

View looking to the right from the front entrance. 

Looking immediately to the left after entering.  You'll find an assortment of t-shirts here. 

The perfect place for two little readers in the front of the store.

These caramels are your impulse buy at the checkout counter. 

Table display of some great Father's Day ideas. 

I've been in bookstores many times when the new books arrive and I love it. 

On the right side of the store after entering you'll see this display of sidelines, many relevant for the summer season. 

I love these.  20-minute candles. 

Attractive display of travel and summer items. 

I really like this vintage floor in this historic building. 

Wonderful area in the middle of the store.  Try out a book or pretend to rest your eyes. 

Can you name these authors without expanding the picture?  Excellent profiles sketched by a talented local artist. 

A few of the store favorites. 

If you're a coffee drinker, they have you covered. 

Display of new releases. 

If you have a budding artist in your family bring them to this display. 

The beautiful back right corner of the bookstore. 

Just some of the books by local authors. 

Little writers can begin their author careers at this little desk. 

On a budget?  Find this book cart for some great buys. 

Partial view of the children's area. 

Another angle of the children's area. 

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

If you haven't done this yet, it's not too late. 

Unique puzzles. 

With Ashley, the fine owner at The Story Collective.  Thanks for a great visit.