The Cottage Book Shop
5989 S. Lake Street
Glen Arbor, MI 49636
Just beginning the third year of retirement from my life as a high school librarian, I still find that September, rather than January, feels like the start of the new year. Of all the luxuries retirement affords me, I especially enjoy the fact that I can visit tourist areas after Labor Day when the weather is still beautiful, but the summer crowds are otherwise occupied by their off-season lives. Two years ago, early in my blogging career, I set out on an adventure to one such tourist attraction, Glen Arbor and the Sleeping Bear Dunes area, now known, thanks to a contest featured on the Good Morning America show, as the Most Beautiful Place in America. (See previous post.) That adventure, however, did include one small disappointment. The Cottage Book Shop, one of the bookstores I was intent on visiting, was inexplicably closed. It looked so charming from the outside that I vowed to make a return trip to see what lay behind that rustic log door. So on a similar sunny day this past September, I made good on that vow.
Yes, I did say rustic log front door. The Cottage Book Shop is housed in a log cabin--a real log cabin. Stepping through that rustic door, I immediately noticed the chinked log walls inside, log beams supporting the roof and walls, and log steps leading to an attic storage space. I would soon learn that this cabin had actually been a private summer cottage on nearby Big Glen Lake and had been moved to the town of Glen Arbor where it took on its new life as The Cottage Book Shop. To say the place exudes rustic charm would be an understatement rather like referring to Lake Michigan as a big lake or the Mackinac Bridge as a nice bridge.
Counter to my expectations regarding a lack of tourist crowds, as I first entered this quaint shop, I wondered if I had my dates mixed up. "Isn't it after Labor Day?" I thought. "Why are all these people here?" The store was abuzz with activity. I took a few moments to have a look around the store while I waited patiently for an opportunity to speak with busy staff person, Bonnie Foley. In between answering the phone and assisting customers, she explained that this day was actually pretty quiet compared to a usual summer day when oftentimes a line forms at the door before the store has even opened. I guess that explains why the store's owner, Barbara Siepker, was taking a much needed vacation. I was sorry to have missed meeting Barbara, but Bonnie was very helpful and made time to talk to me about the store.
Bonnie told me that during the summer the store offers story hours for children in a large tent outside adjacent to the cabin. Author signings and other related events also make use of the tent. As a matter of fact, in August of this year, the store hosted 30 authors . . . at one time! Now that's an author event. Because everyone had so much fun, there are plans to repeat the event next year. For people out of town or unable to attend a signing, the store will even have a book personalized for customers to pick up later, or the store will happily ship it.
The Cottage Book Shop is pleased to support local authors and artists. Bonnie says that art is a big part of the business, and I noticed a full range of photographs, posters, and prints for sale, many featuring the local area. It's no wonder that a variety of artists find this magnificent part of the country a suitable subject on which to base their work. The store also supports local book clubs by offering a discount on books purchased for club reading. Barbara is even involved in book publishing. For a small store, The Cottage Book Shop seems to have a lot going on.
The shop stocks a variety of cards, gifts, t-shirts, puzzles, games, and even antique maps. Divided into smaller rooms reminiscent of its former life as a private cottage, the store has reserved one room for children's books. A trio of whimsical, pint-sized chairs is positioned in the center of the room surrounded by an array of titles for the young ones.
Throughout the shop, artwork and posters adorn the log walls, and books rest appropriately on plank shelves with bark edges.
The Cottage Book Shop offers a Book of the Month Club and has a discount card system whereby frequent customers can earn points toward discounts on future purchases.
As I perused the shelves, my eye was drawn to a novel by Marisa Silver titled Mary Coin. Inspired by the iconic Dorothea Lange photo, Migrant Mother, which graces the front of the book jacket, it seemed an appropriate purchase especially given my interest in the Great Depression, Lange's touching photograph, and my rustic log cabin surroundings .
Two years ago I was intrigued by the quaint and charming exterior of the Cottage Book Shop. The interior did not disappoint. This store was well worth a second look. Who knows, maybe in another two years . . .