We met working in an independent bookstore in California at Kepler’s Books & Magazines. The Bay Area is flush with independent bookstores like Books Inc., Green Apple Books, City Lights, Santa Cruz Bookshop, and so many more. What we learned was that the community wants a place to hang out, spend time, chat for a bit, ask questions, find a little piece of magic to take home. It’s what motivated us to open our own shop a year and a half ago.
The appeal of a chain store lies in its familiarity. Walk into any iteration of a franchise and you know what you’ll see. But this is also a chain store’s flaw. An independent, however, reflects its owner’s personality: if you visit any of Columbia’s independent bookstores, you’ll find a different, yet still satisfying, experience. Our tastes, and our customers’ tastes, influence what you see on the shelves; there’s no central office dictating what to display when.
Yellow Dog Bookshop, Adams Wall of Books, Columbia Books, Village Books, the Mizzou Store (yep, they still have books and they are independent!), as well as Schilb Antiquarian on Providence, are all here to give recommendations, host local authors, have poetry readings, and make our window displays as creative as we want.
There are all kinds of statistics loaded into snazzy info graphics about how your money, spent locally, has a greater impact on your community… It’s completely true. Just ask Coffee Zone, Uprise Bakery, Lakota Coffee, Main Squeeze, International Cafe, or Sparky’s Ice Cream– where we tend to spend our time directly before and directly after our shifts at the shop.
Independents of all kinds tend to have a closer connection to the community, because their owners are part of that community. We try our best to shop local not just as a business, but also as a family.