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.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Old Store, New Store

Stirling Books & Brew
119 N Superior Street
Albion, MI 49224

Always look on the bright side of life. Every cloud has a silver lining. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. I don't want to be cliché here, but a few years back I made a New Year's resolution to have an attitude of gratitude and not let the negative stuff bog me down. Okay, easier said than done, but when I remember to apply this thinking, it is amazingly helpful. Recently I had a great opportunity to find the silver lining and make some lemonade.

My husband was scheduled to take a work trip to Asia, and I had planned to drive him to the airport in his car so that I could take it in for repairs while he was gone. Well, I ended up driving him to the airport alright, but not in his car and not to our local airport. As it turned out, his originating flight was delayed such that he would not be able to make his connection in Detroit. So what else could we do? We drove the 140 miles to Detroit. Since we had just returned the night before from a great, yet exhausting trip to Atlanta for a wedding, we were both tired, cranky, and on edge. The last thing I wanted to do was spend another five hours in the car. I really needed to make some lemonade out of this sour situation. What can always brighten my mood? A bookstore, of course. After dropping my husband off, I was already two hours from home with nobody but the cat expecting me for dinner. The perfect time to take a slight detour for a bookstore I had been meaning to visit. My mood brightened immediately as I drove away from Detroit and toward Albion, home of Stirling Books & Brew.

Getting to Albion may have only been a slight detour, but getting to the bookstore turned out to be no easy matter. The whole town seemed to be under construction. The main street was entirely blocked off, and crews with heavy machinery were everywhere. Undaunted, I found a place to park on a back street and walked through the dust and noise past workmen and orange barricades until I arrived at the shop thankful that it was still open amidst the chaos.

Steve Sobaski and Jim Stuart
I've actually visited this store before and blogged about it—twice. The first time was way back in 2013, but it was a different store then—Books & More, run by a charming woman named Dorothy Dickerson. I enjoyed another visit in 2016, that time for an author event. Recently, when Dorothy decided it was time to retire, the building was purchased by Jim and Staci Stuart, and Stirling Books & Brew was born. Other than the construction mess, the exterior looked pretty much the same, and upon entering, I was pleased to find a familiar face. Steve Sobaski, the friendly barista I had met on my last visit, is now a fixture in the new store, and he graciously filled me in on the changes.

Stirling may be a new store, but much of the old store remains including its cozy, comfortable feel. The wood stove is still the center point of a homey reading and conversation area. The ornamental tin ceiling and walls still add old fashioned charm. And of course, the coffee bar, with its gregarious barista, is still an integral part of the place, providing the “brew” in Stirling Books & Brew.

The new shop, which opened on August 1, has been enhanced with all new floors and lighting. But perhaps my favorite addition is an old player piano. Steve says the store hosts live music on Saturdays provided by locals and college students. In addition to music, the store accommodates a variety of activities and has set a goal of becoming a hub of the community. They appear to be well on their way. The day of my visit a workshop for teachers was holding a breakout session in the front part of the store.

Later, I had the good fortune to meet store owner, Jim Stuart, who happened to walk into the store while I was chatting with Steve. Stirling is not his only business venture, so he is quite a busy man. He made time for a brief conversation before hurrying off to a meeting.

As I wrapped up my time at Stirling, I met Christian, a friendly young barista who helped me with the purchase of a store t-shirt, some books, and a coffee order for the road. I still had a couple hours of driving time ahead of me. Instead of lemonade, I had coffee. But Stirling Books & Brew definitely provided a silver lining to my day.


Cheryl Marton said...

Very nice, as always.

M Redd said...

Thanks, Cheryl. I appreciate the comment.