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.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Minneapolis Adventure, Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Books
422 2nd Street
Hudson, WI 54016

Unexpected delays--frustrating. Unforeseen expenses--costly. Untimely interruptions--annoying. Unexpected bookstore--priceless!

You may recall from my previous post (If you haven't read it, you really should.) my husband Jim and I had travelled to the Minneapolis area for a wedding and were enjoying a long weekend stay with relatives, Paul and Gail, who live near the Twin Cities  just across the St. Croix River in Hudson, Wisconsin, a beautiful waterfront town offering a congenial mix of art galleries, antique shops, and unique eateries. After an enjoyable Friday, golf for Jim and Paul and a trip to Wild Rumpus bookstore for me and Gail, the four of us decided to have dinner at Barker's, a favorite local establishment. Barker's did not disappoint. The food was delicious, and the conversation was delightful, a perfect end to an enjoyable day. Yet as we left the restaurant, what did I happen to notice directly across the street but a small bookstore. Just a few moments before, I had been content with my accomplishment of squeezing in a bookstore visit on this trip. Now suddenly there existed the possibility of yet another. Gail and I immediately headed across the street to check out Chapter 2 Books. I was in luck; it was still open.

Upon entering, we became aware that the store was not only open, but there was an author visit in progress. I would learn later that author events are common at Chapter 2 Books. After a quick look around, I decided that I would have to make time to come back the next day for a more lengthy visit. After all, the wedding wasn't until 4 in the afternoon. That left the morning free for a second bookstore chapter in a weekend that was rapidly becoming very eventful.

"CEO" Matt Roegge mans the desk.
Shortly after the store opened the next morning, I once again found myself at Chapter 2 Books. A relatively new fixture in Hudson, the store has been open since July, 2011, occupying what was formerly a law office. Owners Brian and Sue Roegge were out of the store during my visit, but their son Matt was more than happy to fill me in on the details of this family operation. The Roegge family lives in the Twin Cities area, and all family members are avid readers. Mom and Dad own the store, but Matt jokingly calls himself the CEO of the business. Matt's sister is currently away at college pursuing a career in education. Now there's a family after my own heart.

Business for Chapter 2 Books has been good so far, and the Roegges enjoy the Hudson location. Matt told me that area restaurants feed into the store's business, as diners will often browse at Chapter 2 while waiting for a table. Customer service is what Chapter 2 Books is all about. Matt says special orders are not only emphasized, but for local orders, the store will actually deliver. Now that's what I call going the extra mile.

The atmosphere in the shop is a comfortable mix of old and new. Resting on worn wood floors beneath a beautiful old tin ceiling are custom-made, contemporary shelving units. A wing-back chair paired with an end table and lamp provide a cozy nook for leafing through a book, and a traditional wood rocker graces the otherwise brightly decorated children's area. A popular feature for kids, Matt says, is the child-sized circus tent, perfect for crawling in to enjoy a favorite picture book.

A more open area at the front of the store, where folding chairs sit ready, is often used for author events. As I mentioned earlier, such events are common at Chapter 2, and the day of my visit was no exception. I learned that not one, but two local authors were scheduled for later that day. It seems that writers are prolific in the Twin Cities area, home to Garrison Keillor and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Just as I was lamenting my inability to stay for the author events (I was, after all, in town for a wedding), who should walk into the store but one of the featured authors. Hudson residents, Gary Porter and his wife/publicist Melissa, came in to begin setting up for a book signing. Gary, previously an accounting professor and textbook author, has more recently turned his writing talents to fiction. His book, Duffy, The Tale of a Terrier, was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. The book, or more precisely Duffy himself, tells the story of a rescue dog turned heavenly writer, posthumously relating his touching tale. Duffy is a book for all ages, but Melissa says Gary has enjoyed speaking about the book and the writing process with grade-school students who enjoyed Duffy's story.

Melissa Porter holds a picture of Duffy.
 It was a pleasure meeting the Porters and hearing about Duffy, who was not only their beloved dog and the inspiration for the book, but who now even has his own web site: (www.duffythedog.com). Check it out to learn more about the dog and his book. I, of course, took the opportunity to purchase a copy of Duffy which Gary graciously signed for me.  

Coincidentally, I happened to notice that Chapter 2's up-to-date YA collection included a copy of the newest book by another Gary. I was pleased to purchase What Came From The Stars, by award-winning author, Gary D. Schmidt, who also just happens to be one of my favorite YA writers. (See My Favorites and Brief Book Reviews.)

Gary Porter signing my copy of "Duffy"
One weekend, two great bookstores, and I hadn't even been to the wedding yet. 

Chapter 2 Books provided a surprise second chapter in my weekend adventure. Would there be a third chapter? You never know. Stay tuned.

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