Begin at the beginning

A time of year when it is hard to keep up with all that is going on. The 2019 Western States Bookstore Tour is about to begin.  You can find dates and places at the end of this post or more details on the bookstore’s Facebook page. Quite the tour!  A few cities where the bookstore has set up before and some new ones.  Look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people. And of course, talking about books and life.  I am reminded as the tour gets organized, how much we are part of a wider community.  Beth, whom I haven’t seen in years offered to help with the bookstore’s gig in Denver and she put me in touch with her cousin Virginia who lives in Casper. I have yet to meet Virginia in person but she helped sort out where I could set up the bookstore in that part of Wyoming.  A friend of a friend in Grand Junction, old friends who moved to Buena Vista, Anne’s family in Sacramento, and on and on.  I don’t know how one would go about setting up a traveling bookstore tour if it wasn’t for the amazing network of people who are willing to help by making calls, suggesting sites, and/or offering housing.  Thank you!IMG_1480

The 2019 Western States Bookstore Tour runs from May 16 to June 5 which gives me a few days to get home before the local Creative Arts Center‘s annual Trash2Flash event on June 8th.  This arts center does so much to enhance the community where I live that it is obvious I need to contribute to their event.  And that meant creating my outfit prior to taking off on the bookstore tour.  I can’t reveal too many details about the outfit (we each keep ours secret until they hit the runway) but I will say I wanted photographs to be part of it. I put out the word and before the blink of an eye, people were dropping off large envelopes bulging with photos.  So many beautiful ones!  So many that inspired ideas for stories.  I will use some but have bundles that I won’t use in case you want to use them in your own project or to illustrate a book.

Needless to say, my kitchen table is presently covered with books to be sorted, photographs to be sorted, papers and maps, fabric, scissors and thread.

May 16:  Clark’s Fork. Bozeman, MT

May 17: Black Tooth Brewing. Sheridan, WY

May 18: Funky Junk.  Casper, WY

May 20: Stella’s Gourmet Coffee and Such.  Denver, CO

May 20: Elevation Beer.  Poncha Springs, CO

May 21: Cafe Dawn. Salida, CO

May 23: Kannah Creek Brewing. Grand Junction, CO

May 24:  The Christi Reece Group: Grand Junction. CO

May 26: TBA.  Salt Lake City

May 28: Drakes @ The Barn:  Sacramento, CA

June 2: Extracto Coffee.  Portland, OR

June 3: Ace Typewriter. Portland, OR

June 4: Populuxe Brewing.  Seattle, WA

June 5: TBA. Seattle, WA

 

Thanks

Thanks to the very good friends who put me up (and put up with me) while I was on the recent west coast road trip with the bookstore.  I much appreciated the parking spots for the bookstore, the beds for me, delicious meals and, of course, that strong morning coffee.

And thanks to the gracious businesses that hosted the traveling bookstore. Some were Processed with MOLDIVreturn venues which are always a treat.  Some were entirely new and delightfully surprising.  Your support for this small pop-up business is appreciated. If it weren’t for you providing a space, I would probably get citations from local law enforcement.

And the wonderful people who stopped/shopped at the bookstore! Parents with kids, wise elders, hipsters and folks who just happened to walk by and decided to investigate a van that was actually a bookstore.  There were many individuals whose conversations stay with me….talk about current politics, the Wieliczka salt mine, the dire situation with ICE detainees in Oregon, favorite authors, the struggles as urban neighborhoods gentrify, the challenging twists that life sometimes throws our way, the wonder of book clubs in all sorts of communities, bees, homelessness and expanding tent neighborhoods, the death of a young daughter, typewriters and the people who use them, fix them and collect them.

Now back in northwest Montana sending thanks to all of you who make this happen.

Perplexities

The traveling bookstore is on the road because, after all, that is what a traveling bookstore does. It goes places. Last Sunday was an event at Extracto Coffee in Portland, a lovely day filled with new people stopping by to experience the bookstore, and old friends stopping by to enjoy the scene.  On Monday, while still in Portland, we set up at Ace Typewriter which is always a treat, talking with Matt, visiting with folks who brought in a typewriter to be fixed or who stopped by to pick up one Matt repaired to missiontypeinperfection.

Within the hours parked near Extracto Coffee and the hours parked on N. Lombard by Ace Typewriter, there were numerous conversations.  Two young people just finishing college talked about thoughts for their future. A man from the Bronx with his grown son enjoyed Father’s Day together. A friend provided information about a vigil in Sheridan, OR where hundreds of asylum seekers are being held in the federal prison.  A woman talked with me about growing older and what services and support are available (and those that are not) in urban Oregon and in rural Montana. A mom with a cute little kid dressed in a Superman outfit stopped by.  The boy found a picture book about dogs he wanted and his mom gave him a dollar to pay for it.  She told me it was the first time he ever bought something and we agreed buying a book was a good place to start.  There were discussions about the gentrification of neighborhoods and about the growing number of unhoused individuals in our cities, some of the startling inequalities that face us daily.

People go past the bookstore walking, on bikes, skateboards, pushing shopping carts, and pushing strollers.  A man in an electric wheelchair rolled by with a boy and a dog sitting on his lap.  A young man asks me to hold his carryout container of soup while he digs out his wallet to pay for a book. A woman is pleased when she hears she can take her dog in the bookstore with her.

There were conversations and experiences that touched on hope.  People working to express their opposition to a proposed gas pipe line across Oregon, to speak out against the incarceration of asylum seekers and the separation of families. Having faith that if enough people speak up, these atrocities can be stopped.  But how many constitute enough?  And how do we stop these sorts of things and also make positive changes? Why in this country are there people camped on city streets because they have no where else to live?  Why are so many still without sufficient healthcare?

Today the bookstore heads to San Francisco.  It will set up for two days at SF Center for the Book and on June 23 at Mission Pie for the Third Annual Type-In. No doubt there will be more conversations, more heartache in that city, more challenges for people to face politically, humanely, and more decisions about what each of us will do.

Get these dates down

This upcoming month is an exciting one for the traveling bookstore. I want to be sure you have all the dates and places and times because chances are good that the bookstore is setting up some place you would enjoy going.  As always, this traveling bookstore isn’t just about buying awesome used books. It offers opportunities to type something creative, to have conversations and possibly to solve some problems.  I recently returned from a Humanities Montana meeting reinvigorated that there is hope in civil discourse.  So don’t hesitate to bring a beverage and/or snack and plan to stay a while talking at the bookstore about things that matter.

bookstore in yaakJune 13 Eureka MT Farmers Market   Eureka, MT 3:30 – 6:30

June 17 Extracto Coffee Portland, OR 10:00 – 2:00

June 18 Ace Typewriter Repair  Portland, OR  10:00 – 4:00

June 21 – 22 SF Center for the Book  San Francisco, CA  10:00 – 3:00

June 23  Mission Pie Third Annual Type-In!  San Francisco, CA 10:00 – 1:00

June 25  Port Orford Library  Port Orford, OR  10:00 – 5:00

June 28  Lilo’s Hawaiian BBQ  Hood River, OR  11:00 – 2:00

July 14  HA Brewery  Eureka, MT  4:00 – 7:00

July 20 – 21 Yaak River Festival  Yaak, MT

plus more to come in July and August around Montana!

Betweenness

The Grand 2018 North Carolina and Back Bookstore Tour was glorious. There are the facts: thirty days, 6,223 miles, sixteen gigs. But the splendor of the tour was really about people. There were the business owners who let the bookstore set up in their parking lots.  There were the individuals who housed us.  There were the fantastic 25A0DCC1-1135-4627-B8E1-A57FA726E985customers who lingered to talk and who shared ideas, book titles and suggestions about where the bookstore might set up in the future. And there were the great co-pilots/booksellers who helped navigate, ease concerns, and hand the driver chocolate when traffic was bad.

Did we learn anything?  Yes!  As the primary planner/driver I realized there should be more days to just savor experiences on a long tour.  Too many days in a row bookselling and driving creates an overload.  There needs to be moments if not hours to reflect on all a traveling bookstore is about, on who we met.  We learned Nebraska is more beautiful then we anticipated.  We discovered the ladies parlor at the historic Sheridan Inn where Buffalo Bill used to hang was an ideal place to write postcards. We found surprises in Chillicothe, Missouri and a great Mexican restaurant in Oggalala, NE.  And while talking food, the cornmeal muffin with sausage gravy at Lucettegrace Cafe in Raleigh is a treat to be remembered (and I hope to recreate that recipe some day).

Now with memories fresh and lessons learned, the next tour takes shape.  It is shorter but no doubt will also offer amazing new experiences.  It officially starts on June 18 at Ace Typewriter Repair in Portland.  Then gigs at the SF Center for the Book (6/21-22) and at Mission Pie on 6/23 for our third annual Type-In there with those good folks.  On 6/25 the bookstore sets up at the Port Orford Library for a day selling books, good conversations and then a Type-In from 2-5pm. A few more stops might materialize before starting out on the tour, but I do want this one to have time to reflect.

One might think traveling bookstore tours would get tiresome.  On the contrary, they offer enough shared conversations,  new insights on this country and driving time to ponder difficult questions that I suspect they will continue a while longer.

#missionpie #lucettegrace #acetypewriter

 

The Road

June’s traveling bookstore events have been checked off.  Great adventures in Eureka, the Yaak, Portland and San Francisco.  There was musing with members from Cristina’s book club in Portland and learning about Mircea’s mathematical toys that are now IMG_1182carried (when available as they sell out quickly) in the bookstore. There was meeting Brittany when we set up at the SF Center for the Book and having conversations with her about the life style of a traveling bookstore owner.  There were wonderful people met on Mission Street who bought books and donated books.  There was Karen at Mission Pie who throws the best Type-In ever and exudes the feeling of community.  There was the magic of walking into the SF Center for the Book and seeing all those magnificent printing presses and people learning to set type and bind books.  There was Ethan’s mom in Portland who invited the bookstore to open up near Sacramento the next time it passes through that region and Cheryl who invited the bookstore to Healdsburg.  There was Matt at Ace Typewriter Repair in Portland who fixed five typewriters so quickly we couldn’t believe it, let the bookstore set up in front of his business for the day and offered new ideas for the next time the bookstore is in that town.  There was Gwen in the Yaak who knows how to make everyone feel welcome and makes the best BBQ sandwiches.  There was the young man at a Jiffy Lube in Spokane who helped problem solve a mechanical glitch with the bookstore on a Sunday morning and IMG_1196Melissa who lent cash when my wallet was stolen in Oakland.  There were all the children who marveled at using a typewriter, the individuals who were happy to find just the right book(s) to buy, the invites to bring the bookstore to other towns and events.

Yes, it was an exhilarating month and an exhausting month.  The traveling bookstore business is not for the fainthearted.  The conversations, the driving, schlepping books and typewriters, and the excitement of new people, new ideas and new problems require sufficient energy.  Which is why the hospitality offered by Cristina and Melissa and Kevin and Wendy meant so much along the way, along with meals shared with Shammus, Steve, Jesse and others.

And now we are teetering on July and more adventures.  The month opens on July 1,  setting up at HA Brewery just south of Eureka.  On July 14-15, the bookstore returns to the Yaak for the annual Music Festival there.  And on most Wednesdays we are open at the Eureka farmers market.  The bookstore travels across Washington to Kent Station and Tacoma at the end of the month with a possible event in Bellingham (still searching for the ideal location to set up there).  The shelves are tightly packed with new books, exciting finds and old favorites.  The postcard selection has expanded and of course, there is always a chance to sit down and talk for a while.  Follow us on FB for specific dates and times.  Really the word ‘traveling’ doesn’t begin to capture the wonder of all this particular bookstore is capable of being.

 

Get the keys

The traveling bookstore is hitting the road big time. Or at least bigger than it has since this venture began two years.  As St. Rita’s Amazing Traveling Bookstore starts its third season, the events where it is is setting up are far, wide andgirl in yellow exciting.  Here is a quick list to get started and then more thoughts about all of it:

…and more as summer unfolds.

Besides bringing a wonderful selection of used books and vintage postcards to a location near you, the traveling bookstore is also an opportunity to have conversations and to explore dreams.  That’s how it started after all; a dream to open a bookstore and the reality that it would be tough to make that business financially viable in a town with a population of 1,037.  So with enough conversations and enough brainstorming, here it is – a bookstore that can travel to where people are, a bookstore that has low overhead when parked in a small town, which can then travel to set up at a music festival, in a city or in front of your house (if you want to throw a literary party).  It’s about following one’s dream and finding ways to make it happen.

It would be great to meet up with you along the way. Hope you are at one of these summer events or decide to arrange for the bookstore to come to your town/city.  And, if you don’t mind, please help get the word out about this amazing traveling bookstore.

Between trips

As a former teacher, I am a fan of reflection. You do something and then  you take a bit of time to reflect on it.  In education, this makes perfect sense. Its valuable for both teachers and students to spend time thinking abimg_2280out what happened, how things went before going on to the next step.  Having just returned from taking the traveling bookstore to Portland, I want to reflect before setting out for New York and the Brooklyn Book Festival (we will also set up in Rock Island, IL on 9/15 and at the Montana Book Festival 9/22-24).

Astounded. Surprised. Mystified. These are the words that come to mind when I think about driving the bookstore to Portland, setting up on N. Lombard in front of Ace Typewriter, spending time with friends over dinner and early morning coffee, setting up near Hollywood Fred Meyers, talking with David at Passages Bookshop and the folks at Mother Foucault’s including Charlie and Craig.  Nada wanted to go to Powell’s so we did that as well and marveled at the families filling tiny tables in the children’s books section. More conversations over Thai food with friends and that evening.  Some talk reflected on the books we had been reading – Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, The Plover by Brian Doyle, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Some talk was about aging and some about dying, some about community and making choices about where to live, how to live. Some about the physics of the earth’s rotation and some about love. There were new people we met like Ethan and Jennifer and Roz and Steve who each stopped by long enough to exchange stories, learn names.  A young woman typed a poem at the bookstore before racing across the street to catch her bus. An older woman with two grandchildren bought some children’s books and when paying, told us to keep the change which amounted to a lot.  Although we didn’t sell enough books to cover the trip, we came back richer in knowledge, relationships, perspectives.  In trying to explain the traveling bookstore to city people, I decided it is an experiment.

I appreciated people lingering at the bookstore as I thought people in the city might just buy a book and rush away.  It is great Matt at Ace Typewriter has so much business but I wish he would give a workshop so typewriter novices could maintain their own machines. I learned people like to take photos of the traveling bookstore but then what happens to those photos? Many people don’t seem to like that Portland is growing although Nada and I enjoyed the urban milieu during our few days there. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I returned with questions that I won’t sit long enough to find answers for before taking off for New York.  Maybe the drive across will provide us time to explore the questions as well as I 90.