About This Blog

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm not on board with the whole ebook thing. I enjoy books in all their formats. But there is nothing quite like a bookstore with its neatly arranged shelves of books and artfully created displays of new arrivals, best sellers, and suggested reading. I especially enjoy discovering small, independent bookstores and have made it my mission to visit and report back on as many of these gems as I can. That is my focus, but there is really nothing that is off limits as long as it is about books or reading. Hope you enjoy my blog and come back often.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Bookstore And So Much More

The Bookstore
391 River Street
Manistee, MI

One of the luxuries retirement affords me is the ability to spend time at the family cottage during the week when most of the people on the lake have gone home to school and jobs. It's not exactly schadenfreude, although I must admit that I do derive a small amount of satisfaction from the fact that when I do return home, my departure will be dictated largely by the weather forecast rather than the commitments of employment. But the real luxury is the peace, the tranquility, and the joy that comes from setting my own schedule. I can enjoy a late breakfast on the deck during what would have been second hour and then go for a walk around our small, 40-acre lake during third hour.

Time at the cottage with no commitments comes with yet another advantage. The cottage is in a prime location for more than just sun and swimming. The nearest town, Baldwin, Michigan, is situated within a reasonable drive to many small Michigan tourist towns, and such towns, I have discovered, are often home to interesting small bookstores. Those who have been readers of my blog since I began this journey 10 months ago, will remember that my very first post concerned just such a town, Ludington. (See The Book Mark) Recently, I took the opportunity to visit Manistee, another charming tourist town less than an hour from the cottage. It was there that I visited a delightful establishment called simply The Bookstore. I would soon learn that it is much more than that simple name implies.

Before I even entered the store, I noticed two distinct things: colorful kites in the store window and an abundant array of hanging plants adorning the store entrance. Together these provide a spectacular display of color that beckons passersby into the shop. I would soon learn that the plants are sold through a cooperative arrangement with a couple of businessmen who live in Manistee. I would also learn that kites are a popular item with patrons of The Bookstore, as are toys, puzzles, games, and of course, books.

One of the biggest attributes of The Bookstore is its staff, the self-described "Pat and Peggy Show." These two jovial ladies run the store with fun and frolic. Pat, the store manager, has been in the bookstore business for 36 years, and Peggy is not far behind at 22 years in the business. Both began at an old bookstore that was located down the street. When that store closed, a Manistee couple decided to open The Bookstore in its current location, a recently vacated menswear store. Some remnants from the old store found a new home in The Bookstore, most notably a child-sized red train engine that serves as a decorative display for kids books as well as a fun place to crawl in and read. Pat and Peggy seem right at home in the now two-year-old store, and they immediately made me feel at home too as they graciously showed me around and told me about the shop.

The Bookstore is very kid friendly. Peggy spontaneously set up one of the many toys for sale in the store, this one called a Stomp Rocket, and demonstrated it for me with great success. What kid would not love a toy that you stomp on to send a nerf-style rocket flying across the store. Peggy says they sell very well. 

As you might expect, there is also a nice selection of children's books, and Peggy enjoys reading to the younger store visitors.

On the last Tuesday of each month, The Bookstore hosts a book club, and the selection of the month is sold at a discount for all patrons. The upcoming selection for June is a book by a local author, Tom St. Dennis, titled Heart of a Native. This book is one of many titles by local authors on display in The Bookstore. Pat and Peggy described one in particular that is popular in the Manistee area, The Old School, Adventures of an Old Game Warden by Sgt. John A. Walker with Bill Copeland. Apparently, more than a few Manistee natives have recognized friends and relatives whose run-ins with the game warden have been chronicled in this book.

Pat and Peggy go out of their way to add little extras to the shop such as handbags that Peggy makes to sell. The store also sports a display of greeting cards that the two women have made utilizing some of their photos taken in the Manistee area. Some of these photos are also sold in frames. I couldn't resist purchasing two of the beautiful photo cards.

Of course the store also offers a good selection of best sellers, new releases, classics, and reference books as well as newspapers, magazines, and maps. I was particularly attracted to a display of 3-D bookmarks and found one that I couldn't pass up. It depicts wine being poured into a glass, and the 3-D is so deep, I almost feel that I could put my hands around that wine glass and pick it up. Another unique item The Bookstore offers is soup mix, which Pat and Peggy say sells surprisingly well. Some bookstores sell coffee; The Bookstore of Manistee sells soup.

A hand-made greeting card from The Bookstore

In addition to the greeting cards and book mark, I purchased a title recommended by Peggy, The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin, a novel about two people stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to The Bookstore of Manistee and was delighted and entertained by the Pat and Peggy Show. We laughed, exchanged stories, and shared our favorite book titles for both children and adults. A charming small town, a delightful bookstore, and two whimsical and special ladies--ingredients of an afternoon well spent.

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