Some might think a traveling bookstore would be enough. After all by its third summer in operation, the bookstore had been all over Montana (no small feat), to the Brooklyn Book Festival in NY, to events in San Francisco, to Portland and to the Seattle area. It had set up in Illinois and Idaho. It had been perused by the waitress at Trixi’s Saloon in Ovando and by a cop in Choteau. It had blown a tire in S. Dakota and had a small fixable oil problem in Coeur d’Alene.
And of course there are times when the bookstore stays parked quietly at home while I wander forth with a small suitcase and only a book or two. The current adventure has me in the Czech Republic with a brief foray to Vienna, and then later to Israel, Hungary and Romania. It was really just today though while buying a canvas (my third on this trip) that I realized different places pull out different aspects of who I am. While in my hometown, I’m compelled to volunteer, to give to the community which gives so much to me. In Brno, I find myself doing art on a daily basis – perhaps the lovely morning light in the flat where I stay. In Vienna, I could sit for hours (and do) writing: writing on a bench in the midst of the Impressionist exhibit, writing in a small quiet cafe). I remember once being at the Oregon coast with a friend over a long weekend sewing. As though I had to get as much sewing done as possible even though I rarely sew. Different places draw out different aspects of me, as though there isn’t a static me but a me that changes with place.
I wonder if this happens to other people. Is it one of the reasons we travel? And how do people who don’t travel manage to see all they are capable of doing?
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 carried (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 Melissa 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.
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 and 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.