Cabbages & Kings
36 Center Street
P. O. Box 2735
Douglas, MI 49406
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings."
from The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
Who says children's books are just for children? Some of my very favorite books are designated as children's books. My copies of Maurice Sendak's Higglety Pigglety Pop!, Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, and the classic Margery Williams tale of The Velveteen Rabbit are all prized possessions. And some of my most memorable bookstore encounters have been children's bookstores. (See Wild Rumpus and Storybook Village.) Recently I had the good fortune to discover yet another charming shop that caters to the reading tastes of the younger set, whether young in age or in spirit. After my visit to Booked For The Season in Saugatuck (See previous post.), I made the quick trip across the bridge to the adjacent town of Douglas where I found Cabbages & Kings, a children's bookstore that takes its name from a line by the iconic children's author, Lewis Carroll.
The shop more than lives up to the whimsical feel that Carroll's classic tales bring to mind. Cabbages & Kings may be small on floor space, but it is decidedly large on charm. From floor to ceiling the modest space is packed with items to delight the eye and spark the imagination, yet it does not feel at all crowded. From creative book displays to fanciful art pieces adorning the sunny walls, owner Diana Parsons' background as an art teacher is readily visible. This store is as enchanting as Lewis Carroll.
Diana was minding the store on her own at the time of my visit, but she is not alone in this venture. Her daughter, Katherine Bryers, is her partner. The two have owned the store for about 7 years, but Katherine's love of the place goes back to the original store where she worked part time. When that owner retired, mother and daughter bought the shop.
Because the space is small, Diana says they have to be quite selective in the merchandise they stock. The focus is on the classics—nice stories beautifully illustrated. This careful selection also applies to the table of sweets located in the center of the store. No mere Hershey bars or M & M's here. These high-end confections, the owners believe, are the absolute best and will appeal to adults as well as children. I confess to a sweet-tooth indulgence. I couldn't resist.
Also on display are stationery items, greeting cards, puzzles, and the like as well as some lovely knitted items from a Fair Trade company in Ecuador. So much to see in such a small space.
Unlike Booked For The Season, Cabbages & Kings is open year round, although only on weekends during the winter months. A store for all seasons and all ages. True, the books are for children, but the experiences and memories those books elicit are for everyone. As Diana says, “There's nothing in the world like holding a child in your lap and reading a book together.” I heartily agree.