Tag Archives: Corner Books

Independent thinker? Think independent bookseller!

When legendary philosopher and social critic Jerry Seinfeld reminds fans that “a bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking” he refers to thinking about something more than “books about nothing.” I’m sure he’s also not thinking about chains but about the thinking possibilities that thrive in the atmosphere that only an independent bookstore can create.

Often nestled in quiet neighborhoods, indies reflect, shape and create vibrant communities of individual and collaborative thinking about ideas, stories, what’s been and what has yet to be.

This past few days I’ve been so busy hanging out in my neighborhood indies that I nearly overlooked the fact that next Saturday, April 30, we celebrate the second annual Independent Bookstore Day.   In 2015, the inaugural year of Independent Bookstore Day, at least 400 indies participated. Sponsors of IBD have made special efforts this year to reach lesser known and possibly more remote indies that enrich the lives of countless readers who yearn for more access to the written word.

For Twin Cities thinkers Mary Ann Grossman, renowned book editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, provides some great tips to local happenings. (http://www.twincities.com/2016/04/21/local-merchants-celebrate-independent-bookstore-day/)  She describes the ten TC’s bookstores that have joined forces to introduce a Bookstore Passport that encourages readers to travel the indie route for intellectual and economic gain.  She also notes the local authors who will be participating at indie bookstores. There will no doubt be further coverage in the local and neighborhood press in the days to come.  Bookstores are also working together and with supporters to create maps and guides to the fascinating mix of indies that the intrepid seeker can find on some unexpected sites ranging from rehabbed commercial enterprises to strip malls.

My recent time spent thinking in and about the atmosphere of two very special indie bookstores inspires my enthusiasm for IBD.    It’s interesting to observe that both of my Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood bookstore favorites, Corner Books and Eat My Words, feature used books. For me, used books somehow enhance the reading adventure – maybe because of the time spent with thinkers who have are inclined to  leave their indelible mark on the volume – by way of margin notes, bookmarks and/or coffee stains. I wonder as I read just what that reader was thinking as she thought about these same words.

One of my most frequent bookish haunts is Corner Books (http://www.cornerbooksmn.com, in the St. Anthony Village mall.  This past week proprietor Carol Urness celebrated her rich life of books with a most wonderful event.  In a three day celebration of eighty years of life Carol  shared a wealth of treasures – etchings, atlases, objects d’art and other fun stuff – with long-time friends, customers, scholars, birders, writers, and librarian colleagues. I couldn’t resist dropping in each of the three days of this unique tribute to the life of the mind.  I will happily share more about Carol and Corner Books when I can corner this unique dynamo for a long conversation and, as soon as she recuperates from the celebration, she will find an hour to guest star on Voices of Northeast. (http://ias.umn.edu/2014/07/29/northeast/)

My other neighborhood indie favorite is Eat My Words where proprietor Scott Vankaughnett has built a community of thoughtful readers not with written words alone but with a rich agenda of creative programs designed to pique the fancy of any thinker. More about Eat My Words on an earlier blog post (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/hungry-for-a-good-read-try-eat-my-words/) – or view a delightful interview with Scott on the Voices of Northeast site. (http://ias.umn.edu/2014/07/29/northeast/

Saturday, April 30, 2016 — Independent Bookstore Day

Support this community of thinkers built by independent booksellers, bibliophiles and discerning book buyers

 

 

 

 

Celebrating My Independents!

 

 

A superfluity of wealth, and a train of domestic slaves, naturally banish a sense of general liberty, and nourish the seeds of that kind of independence that usually terminates in aristocracy.   Mercy Otis Warren, 1728-1814, political writing and propagandist

Back in June, when word came down that Celebrate Your Independents Month was the classy theme for July 2012, I made big plans to interview the independent businesses in my neighborhood.  After some futile calls around, to learn for one thing that the Northeast Neighbors and Business Association is currently dormant, I scrapped the interview plan and decided to focus instead on the great independent business owners with whom I, as an inveterate supporter, come in contact every day. 

Theirs are the stories I know, the people, the products and the services I want to celebrate! In the words of Mr. Rogers, these are the “people in my neighborhood”, the people I know not as vendors of goods and services but as friends.

Sue Johnson, the ebullient queen of all things breakfast-related at Johnson’s Bacon & Eggs Cafe in Columbia Heights, shares her culinary talents,  decorating bent, and unstinting hospitality with all comers – the daily gathering of locals and those of us in search of the perfect blueberry pancake. Great food served with a touch of class, a shared laugh and Sue’s warm friendship sends me on my way with a new take on the day to come.

Jeannie Rarick, who rules at Annona Gourmet in the newly-spruced-up St. Anthony Village Shopping Center, shares her energy and zest for life with an ever-growing cast of gourmet shoppers from the neighborhood and from far-flung environs.  Jeannie dispenses tasty samples of her wares, principally vinegars and oils, along with an encyclopedic knowledge of their histories and virtues, along with the latest tidbits from the hood.

Just next door is Corner Books, a totally irresistible bookstore owned and operated by one of the world’s great bibliophiles, Carol Urness.  Carol is a scholar, librarian, birder and traveler who knows and shares with shoppers and gawkers just about everything there is to know and share about books.  Customers know Carol is in if her brilliantly painted library cart, full of great reads, is parked outside the shop.

And then there is Jennifer Schmidt nnow reigning at Hair-O-Smith, a woman-run hair salon cum dance studio nestled in the Q.arma Building in the heart of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Area.  The funky setting is the ideal palette for Jennifer, hairdresser extraordinaire who is always at the ready with the right cut and the right take on the realities of life. 

Trish and Matt at Crafty Planet, 2833 NE Johnson, meet the talented crafter and those of us who struggle with the intricacies of dishcloth construction with equal  enthusiasm for the possibilities.  They and their staff add a personal touch to the charming shop that bursts on the seams with every conceivable pattern, material, yarn, thread, and learning opportunity. They share their knowledge with a host of classes and outreach activities, including their July 22 NoCoast Craft-O-Rama craft and art family fun event at Silverwood Park.

Though I’m not sure which comes first, I know that a visit to the Crafty Planet and a stop at The Coffee House Northeast, just across the street at 2852 Johnson NE, are inseparable.  The friendly neighborhood gathering spot offers not just coffee but a full menu of smoothies, sweets, salads, sandwiches and more.  The ongoing expansion project at The Coffee House Northeast testifies to the come-on-in spirit of this neighborhood independent business.

There are not enough hours to track my own steps through the neighborhood in order to chronicle the scores of independents I patronize – or at least visit – on a regular basis.  And there’s nowhere near the money for to help these fine businesses owners spur the economy.  Still, I am proud to tell the story of the role of independent businesses in my life neighborhood.  Through their very presence, their services and the unique products they provide, they and the scores of other independents in my neighborhood contribute immeasurably to the vitality of the community of which they are the economic and social hub.

For others’ celebratory thoughts, check the St. Paul Pioneer Press Twin Cities.Com article in which Twin Citians extol the virtues of their own favorite independent vendors of books, theater, movies, music and art. 

So much to celebrate, so little time!