Idle Hours Bookshop
212 South Michigan Street
South Bend, IN 46601
I've mentioned my fascination with Scotland in previous posts. A visit there is tops on my bucket list. Of course when I eventually get there, I will also want to visit nearby Ireland. (If you give a mouse a cookie . . . right?) My son Culver and daughter-in-law Alysandra have a love of the Emerald Isle that was recently cemented when they spent part of their honeymoon enjoying Irish scenery, Irish food, Irish beer, and Irish landmarks. The closest I have come at this point to an actual trip to Ireland is a recent visit to a different brand of Irish town, South Bend, Indiana. That's right, South Bend, home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The luck of the Irish was with me on a sunny August day when I discovered that South Bend is also home to a small used bookstore, Idle Hours Bookshop.
Located on one of South Bend's main streets, the store was easy to spot as it was quite literally spilling out onto the sidewalk. A couple of signs, a table of sale books, a few chairs, and even some chalk art beckoned me through an open door beneath a red awning. The establishment inhabits a space in the city's historic State Theater building, an edifice with a rich history in South Bend. Idle Hours owners assist in the renovation of this structure as much as possible. Shop owners, Josi and Pat Doyle, were on vacation on the day of my visit, but Josi's friendly mother, Martha, was more than happy to chat and answer some of my questions.
|A glimpse behind the front desk|
Pat originally opened the store because of his love for books and authors and his longtime dream of owning a used bookstore. Pat's dad ran the shop for a while after he retired, and now Josi runs the store during the day. A couple of years ago, Martha, who is also a book lover, was recruited to help out as well. Idle Hours is truly a family-run business, even sometimes including the owners' young son who enjoys showing books to people.
I love seeing so much love for books in one family. As a matter of fact, the Doyles have an author in the family. Pat's brother, Steve, who has a passion for a more well-known Doyle, is the author of Sherlock Holmes for Dummies. When he was just in his teens, Steve joined a Sherlockian group, giving birth to his love for all things Sherlockian. He currently runs a group Chapter out of Indianapolis.
Idle Hours reflects this love of Sherlock Holmes in the store. Behind the front desk is a Sherlock shrine of sorts with memorabilia and pictures depicting the various actors who have portrayed the famous sleuth. And the store has a rather large section of Sherlock Holmes books.
Not surprisingly for a store located in South Bend, there is also an Irish section. Both of the owners have visited Ireland and have a keen interest in the country. I purchased a pictorial history of Ireland for my son and daughter-in-law.
Though the store is quite small, there is much to browse as the shelves are jam packed. Even some areas of the floor are used to display books. Although the owners once used book auctions as a source of inventory, they now rely on a simpler approach, customers. No need to travel to an auction and then transport books back to the store when there are plenty of patrons who bring in books for cash or store credit.
Idle Hours is very involved in South Bend community events, and the owners are keen on reaching out to encourage the love of reading, often even donating books back to the public. They also enjoy hosting books signings with local authors. Through Idle Hours, the Doyles have found a special way to champion books and reading. I think even Sherlock Holmes would say that this benefit to the city is no mystery.
Idle Hours can be found on Facebook at: