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The bookstore is back
Aug. 8, 2016
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by Ivan Raconteur

I think perhaps we can all use some good news these days. There’s been precious little of that on the radio and TV lately.

It was a happy day, therefore, when I recently read that one of my favorite bookstores has been saved.

For decades, one of the rituals of our annual family vacations has been a stop at the Village Bookstore in Grand Rapids.

I have found some pleasant summer reading there, as well as things I haven’t found elsewhere.

Each year, during the week we stayed in the area, I made it a point to buy something in the store.

This is partly because I believe in supporting good, independent bookstores, but also because the Village Bookstore had such an impressive collection.

I especially enjoyed the Minnesota and regional section, which was always full of delightful books about the state, its history, its flora and fauna, and many other subjects of local interest.

One could learn about canoeing or camping, or find travel guides highlighting points of interest.

There were books about the people who lived in the area long before European settlers began to arrive.

I found obscure history books documenting the rise (and sometimes fall) of some of the quirky little towns that dot the Iron Range.

There was even a book on the history of small, family-owned resorts in northern Minnesota.

Part of the fun was just browsing through the stacks to see what I could discover.

This went on for years.

Then, during my vacation earlier this year, I was saddened to learn the Village Bookstore was closing.

I wasn’t worried about not being able to find books from other sources, but I knew I would miss a place that has been such a highlight of my summer vacations.

I couldn’t blame the owner. Mike McGinnis had owned the store for 36 years, and at age 73, he was ready to retire.

Considering all the changes in the book business since he bought the store in 1980, I can’t help but think the guy deserves a medal just for having survived that long.

It turns out I was not the only one who was sorry to see the bookstore go.

McGinnis had submitted his 60-day notice and begun packing things up when, at the last minute, Jean Healy, the manager of Central Square Mall, told him to stop.

She said the mall didn’t want to lose the bookstore, so instead, the mall decided to buy it.

Central Square Mall became the official owner of the Village Bookstore July 1.

Not only will the store remain open, but the mall has plans to expand it.

According to McGinnis, the store has always found a way to fill a niche for the community and the tourists.

Judging by the number of people who flocked to the store on rainy afternoons during the tourist season, I’d say he’s right.

It’s good to know this wonderful store will continue its rich tradition of providing books for locals and travelers alike.

I’m looking forward to visiting the store when I head north for my vacation next year. While I’m there, I’m sure I’ll find a book or two that I will have to buy.

It’s always good to support the local economy, whether we are at home or traveling.


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