A Bookstore in Wisconsin/Minnesota Needs Our Help

We all know that independent bookstores are riding a dangerous wave in today’s economy: some dance; some drown.

There’s a nice bookshop in Hudson, Wisconsin, called Chapter2Books. It’s at 422 Second Street, on the bank of the St. Croix River, at the border with Minnesota. And all 842 square feet of it is struggling.

Sue and her husband Brian set up shop in Summer 2011, after Brian lost his job managing a credit union because of a merger with a larger firm. They launched their little bookstore with high hopes and higher rents.

chapter 2 booksAnd now, as Sue puts it, the economy is kicking their butts.

Sue understands that people think Amazon is cheaper, but, as she says,”Cheap is not cheap. Cheap books=no indies=no story hour for the babies at the shop=no support for local authors=no writing groups=no forum for national authors to come to town=no special, hand picked books, just bestsellers you can find anywhere=noone to personally make a connection with your reluctant reader=no indie store participating in chamber and town events, etc. etc. etc. Is that download on Amazon really worth it?”

“I’ve realized in the last few weeks that I have become a curator of books,” Sue said. “It actually is an important function to help people, whether they’re looking for a gift book or expanding what their kids are reading.”

For his part, Brian opened the doors to local authors: self published, house published, prospective writers and all. Not only did they set up a writing group, but when self-published authors came to do book talks, if the turnout was low, Brian slipped a $20 here or there from his own dwindling wallet and went to merchants up and down the street, suggesting they stop in, listen a few minutes, and buy the book.

That kind of human touch doesn’t come from cyber-deals.

sue and brian“This bookshop was our prayer to the universe,” Sue said. “Brian spent 30 years in banking, and then we got to do this. We advise customers and listen to their needs and all the things you talk about in your book, Wendy, and yet, now….I’m mad, I’m sad, I’m frustrated, I’m devastated, I’m heartbroken, I’m terrified.”

Can we afford to lose another small town store–a BOOKstore–folks? Do we really want another one to bite the dust?

Perhaps we can help. Could you repost this information – whole blog, condensed piece, whatever you can. Here are some basics: The shop is open from 10-5. Mon-Wed and Saturday, 10-7 Thurs and Fri, and 11-5 Sundays. Their website is http://www.chapter2books.com/. Thanks for doing what you can. Sue and Brian support their community. They could use some nice email (Brian@chapter2books.com; Sue@chapter2books.com), Tweets @chapter2books, and LIKEs on Facebook to boost morale–and spread the word that they’re standing, ready, to serve booklovers along the St. Croix River. Thanks!

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31 Comments

Filed under book reviews, bookstore management, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized

31 responses to “A Bookstore in Wisconsin/Minnesota Needs Our Help

  1. It’s sad to see locally owned bookstores struggling. Posted on my author page and may reblog.

  2. I’m not sure how I’ll ever thank Wendy enough but I have read her book and sold her book! 🙂 Oh and loved her book. Ironically she wrote about their missteps along with success but I saw the whole thing as a how to manual. And a wonderful story.
    Our store is very close to eeking out an existence. The winter was horrible and we owe some back rent. We are close to making it. That makes it worse.

  3. I have friends in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, will send this on to them. Good luck!

  4. All the way from Hannibal, Mo. Praying for you.

  5. Ann

    I will be visiting Hudson in May and look forward to buying some books there!

  6. Joanne

    I’m looking for Bob Tarte’s books ‘Kitty Corner’ and ‘Fowl Weather’ – any chance I could get therm from you?

  7. I ordered Christmas gifts this past year from C2C instead of Amazon for this exact reason. Brian didn’t charge me shipping, AND it was here in about two days. Plus, I actually had a face to face transaction. Something that seems to be lost lately. Praying you make it through this!

  8. Carol Bannon

    Greetings! I live too far from Chapter2Books to physically visit the cute shop. Although, does the store sell via Abe books, etc. I know, I know hit me with a wet noodle for mentioning an Internet sale. But, if just this once helped keep a storefront open…. Thank you!

    • ‘S OK, Carol; our bookstore sells online via half.com. But Chapter2Books I don’t think sells on ABEBooks. Sue can say for sure.

    • I second Wendy, it’s ok. We know it’s part of our techno society. We signed on with the ABA to sell Kobo ereaders and downloads. It was a bit reluctantly but we want to compete.Nothing has come of it .
      We don’t sell on Abe. Maybe we should, maybe we will someday. We don’t have the ability to buy directly off our site that many stores that sell new books do because the administration costs were too much for us.
      Wendy’s store on Abe will work great for you.

  9. I wish I could make a public service announcement that could go far and wide. Whenever someone google searches and is about to buy a book, they see the Amazon icon BUT there are always other options listed too! There is a graphic that is a red scribble that represents IndieBound the Independent Booksellers Association. Simply a matter of looking past the Amazon option will send you to buying from an indie bookstore. Even better it asks for your zip code so the indie closest to you will get the sale NOT AMAZON.

  10. Kim

    We need to all stick together and educate people how important it is to shop local. Sue and Brian, I will never forget that you were the first person in my door to welcome me to the neighborhood. I have a local writer for you to meet and will spread the word! Keep the faith!

  11. sherri

    hang in there-you are more important than you know. We just closed our small-town bookstore after 9 years (retired but don’t know how much longer we would have lasted anyway) and now old customers tell me we took part of the town’s soul-so true.

  12. Janis

    I was just in and bought a book for my husband. I’ll drop in again next weekend.

  13. Maybe if a group of Twin Cities authors came down to do an event? I’d join a group like that. Peter Geye are you listening?
    Sarah Stonich

    • Bring it on Sarah! We are definitely fans. The funny thing about our events, we are always on the author’s schedule at least a month after other local stores. That is because I am self taught on approaching authors, publishers etc. Brian works the store and I work my laptop ordering books, outreach, lining up events. For example we are very grateful to William Kent Krueger for calling us about his tour for Ordinary Grace. He had been here for Trickster’s Point and I knew he had OG coming out but I hadn’t gotten around to reaching out yet!
      One other thing, we love Erik and the other people at UMN Press.

  14. Rhea MacDonald

    We are down in Oklahoma right now, but from South
    Dakota, and I will share this with all of my friends on Facebook. I hope you guys see a boom, and that you can catch up. If I was there, I would be going in. in our small town, Brookings, South Dakota, we were always in our local book store, as we are readers, and would rather own our books, used or new. Wish I was there to stock up my library!!!!

    • Thank you very much Rhea. We will mail you anything you want but it sounds like you’re set now. By any chance are you in Tulsa? Our daughter will be there this summer in training for Teach For America. She’s a bit annoyed because the training used to be in Chicago. And she’s even more annoyed because I keep saying she’s going to be swept off her feet by some cowboy, which leads to me singing the Dixie Chick’s Cowboy Take Me Away…..which leads to her hanging up on me.

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