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.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

View From The Windowsill

The Windowsill
107 S. James Street
Ludington, MI 49431

It's been two years since I began this blogging adventure, and what a joy it has been. After some initial frustration, I am now fairly comfortable with the Blogger tool and have enjoyed seeing the way this blog has developed. I have delighted in talking to fantastic bookstore owners and fellow bibliomaniacs. I have met several bookstore cats, a few bookstore dogs, and even some bookstore ferrets and chickens. I never would have guessed two years ago that this journey would lead me to so many interesting and unique people and establishments.

I think it fitting that two years after my first post, I returned to Ludington, the small Lake Michigan town where it all began. This time my trip took me to The Windowsill, a small bookstore located only a few blocks from the subject of my very first post. It is also fitting that I was accompanied on this visit by my son, Culver, who was with me on that initial foray. What's surprising is that neither of us knew at that time that The Windowsill existed. Otherwise, it surely would not have taken two years to visit this lovely mom-and-pop shop.

Ludington is a bustling tourist town on summer weekends. Our visit on a July Saturday was no exception. Even though the Windowsill is half a block off the town's main street, it too was busy upon our arrival. Friendly store owners, Rick and Julie Toole, were nevertheless happy to talk with me in between customers.

The couple's origins are on the east side of the state where they lived and worked until Rick was ready to retire. With the dream of building a log home, the pair set out looking for property and were discouraged by the high prices in their area. Fortunately, a friend suggested they try the Ludington area, and they now enjoy their log home in Walhalla, about 20 minutes east of the lakeshore.

Julie, a former librarian, was not yet ready to retire, so after a few years into Rick's retirement, the Tooles became bookstore owners. The Windowsill stocks new and used titles as well as remainders. Used books are in great condition, undergoing careful scrutiny and cleaning before being placed on the shelves right alongside the new titles which are sold at a discount. This is definitely the place for bargains.

Julie's former life as a librarian is readily apparent in the store's well organized shelves and helpful signage and shelf labels. She says her "What Next?" guide is a popular feature of the store. Getting the right book into the right hands is a skill that the former librarian in me wholeheartedly appreciates. This librarian's touch is also evidenced by the fact that the Windowsill is a fully modernized store with a computer inventory and labeling system just like the "big box" bookstores. Whether new or used, all the books have computerized barcoded price stickers.

The Windowsill supports two book clubs, one in the daytime and another in the evening. Julie says the clubs read different titles so a few people attend both clubs.

The comfortable, cheery store offers a good sized children's section (complete with a tiny shopping cart) and an ample selection for young adult readers. Jennifer Rush, author of the popular YA book, Altered, actually lives in the Ludington area, and the Windowsill is pleased to feature her books. All Jennifer Rush titles are signed by the author, and I was presented with an Altered bookmark also signed by the author.

Special orders are common at the store especially during the winter months, Rick says. In addition to books, the Windowsill also offers used CD's and DVD's as well as a variety of toys and games. New to the store this year is paracord in a variety of hot colors. Rick and Julie told me it is a popular item with the kids who use it to make survival bracelets. 

Cards, tin signs, crocheted towels, reading glasses, bookmarks, craft items, and journals are also for sale. I took a particular interest in the journals and purchased one to record events at our nearby family cottage, a practice suggested to me by a cottage neighbor. (Thanks, Cheryl.)

One of the titles on my book bucket list (See earlier post.) is War and Peace, and when I asked Rick if the store had a copy, he immediately pulled one off the shelf. He says they see quite a bit of interest in the classics. 

I rounded out my Windowsill purchases with a balance game called Suspend (similar to Jenga) that I thought would be nice to have for rainy afternoons at the cottage. Culver also found a book on his wish list, one of the Game of Thrones titles by George R. R. Martin, A Feast For Crows.

A beautiful day, a lovely town, and time well spent with my son. It doesn't get any better than that. I'm sure there are more enjoyable moments at this Windowsill in our future.

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