The Island Bookstore
215 E. Central Ave.
P. O. Box 1006
Mackinaw City, MI 49701
Who doesn't love a good picture book? One of the biggest advantages of kids and grandkids is that they provide a reasonable excuse to read these illustrated literary works. Not that I've ever needed an excuse, mind you. Some of my favorite books are picture books. But what about a picture bookstore? That was a new one on me, and that is precisely what I encountered in Mackinaw City. Allow me to explain.
After enjoying an afternoon on Michigan's lovely Mackinac Island and a visit to the Island Bookstore (see Tip of the Mitt, Part II), I caught the ferry back to Mackinaw City on the mainland. By the time the boat had docked, most of the shops in the City were closing down, so I settled into my hotel room for a good night's rest in preparation for another day in northern Michigan. Bright and early the next morning (okay, early by retirement standards) I set out in search of Mackinaw City's Island Bookstore.
That's right, Mackinaw City has an Island Bookstore of its own, a sister store to the one on the Island, and although the mainland store has some of the same interesting and unexpected items like the library-book tote bag I fell in love with, that is where the similarities end. To begin with, the Mackinaw City shop is larger, much larger. And with added space come great possibilities like a larger children's section, more shelf space for books, room for a coffee bar, and something I've never seen in a bookstore before--a photographer's studio. That's right. This is a picture bookstore.
In the back of the shop, a large area is set aside for portrait photography, specifically Mackinaw Old Time Portraits. What better souvenir for tourists to take home from this quaint, historic area than a picture of themselves dressed up in garb from bygone days. Costumes of all sorts are available as well as old-time sets like the large wood bar that looks like it came straight from the set of an old Gunsmoke episode. From the street, the store itself looks like it would have been right at home in an old western town.
By strange coincidence shortly before I arrived in the store, several individuals from the local library had been in for a group photo. Sorry I missed it. The photographer of the day was Stacie, who also happened to be running the bookstore that day. Since it was so early in the season, she said she was wearing both hats. Once the tourists begin to arrive in full force, a separate photographer runs that part of the store. Photos are a relatively new addition to the store, Stacie informed me, having been added around 5 years or so ago, while the bookstore has been around for over 20 years.
As she happily showed me around the store and took some time to chat, I found a kindred spirit in Stacie, who was at one time a high school English teacher and is now in her third year working at Island Bookstore. Stacie makes her home in the nearby town of Cheboygan on the shores of Lake Huron, and after an enjoyable visit at Island Bookstore, the unique picture bookstore in Mackinaw City, I was headed to Cheboygan myself for the last stop on my Tip of the Mitt tour. Stay tuned.