Friday, February 26, 2010

Support the Independents, Part 6

'Few independent bookstores are more iconic than Powell's Books. Even readers who've never been to Portland, Oregon, know about the store from its ads in places like the New Yorker, or from its prominent online presence, or from its reputation as the largest new- and used-book store in the world. The "City of Books," as the four-story flagship store on West Burnside is known, occupies an entire city block, and carries more than one million books. The sixty-eight-thousand-square-foot space is divided into nine color-coded rooms, which together house more than 3,500 sections. From the moment you walk in, it feels as if you could find anything there.'
--from a great new piece on one of the country's great independent bookstores, Powell's, in the new issue of Poets & Writers magazine, which we've pointed you to in the past. You can review earlier iterations of our ongoing series about supporting indy bookstores here, and check out my original love song to indy bookshops, posted just months after this blog started, here. If any of this moves you to share your own bookstore stories, we won't be disappointed.


At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Mike Q said...

My son Mike, who's read many more books in his 33 years than I have in my 63, lived in Portland for a couple years and fell in love with Powell's. But, as someone who can't make up his mind, I was overwhelmed when he took me there.

Frankly, I still haven't gotten over Shaker Square's loss of Richard Guildemeister's bookstore or, later, the move of Joseph Beth to that faux village named Legacy. Thank God for Loganberry Books over on Larchmere.

At 2:58 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

How wild your timing was. As it happened, I was just coming out of the movies at Shaker Square when I first read this comment, and you reminded me that I hadn't been to Loganberry in many months. Since I was already in the neighborhood, and since it was the kind of cold, snowy day made for hanging out in a bookstore, I headed over there. If you're in the area and you've never been there, do yourself a favor and check it out. The interior is one of the truly great book spaces ever assembled, with a skylight to let in whatever small bits of light filter through Cleveland's endless wintry clouded-over pewter color, and room after room of books.

I could do without the Vagina Monolgues ethos of the place, which I have to say amuses me more than offends me. Everywhere you look, including the bathroom, you'll find feminist propaganda foisted on you. And of course there's the unsmiling owner behind the counter, who looks like she last cracked a grin during the Eisenhower Administration. But I try not to let that ruin it for me.

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Mike Q said...

Well, you have to admit, there was a lot to smile about during Ike's administration.

Thanks for boosting our economy at the Square.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I miss the days when Luchita's (my favorite Mex restaurant) and Joseph Beth bookstore were also on the square. Nothing like a movie, dinner and a bookstore visit to make a good weekend night out. But I'm just glad the theatre is still there.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger FreshGreenKim said...

I've been reading the book Big Box Swindle.

All I can think as I read your post is how much I miss my old West Park neighborhood where I could walk to the store, library, park, doctor, post office, bank, etc. There is something incredibly community oriented about patronizing small town independent local businesses.

I've written about it before, and even in this era of internet shopping, we can still find ways to support our local establishments; even if the sidewalks are not concrete.

What are some of your favorite independent businesses?

At 12:13 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Is that West Park in YTown or Cleveland, Kim? Thanks for the question. I've been planning on writing about some of these places, so I don't want to steal too much thunder from that, but let me mention two things: the independently owned Cleveland-area restaurants have nicely organized themselves into a confederation that has begun collectively promoting themselves well. You can learn more at I carry around their small roster of members in my wallet, so that every time I'm out and about to head to a restaurant, I check if there's an indy place nearby at about the same price and convenience, and if in doubt, I go there. There's also an incredible tiny tailor shop within walking distance of my house, Rose's Tailoring, overseen by a Russian Jewish immigrant (you guessed it, Rose) who has become irreplaceable in my life. I'm hard on clothes, and forever tearing coats, zippers in my pants and putting holes in my jacket and pants pockets. I take it to Rose, who always does a bang-up job, and for about one-third the price of what I would expect if I took it anywhere else.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger FreshGreenKim said...

John, I'm still trying to adopt Youngstown as home, so West Park is Cleveland, over by Kamm's corners.

Crazy part? What I'm finding about Ytown, locally? Is online. That's what I meant by sidewalks not always being concrete.

I look forward to your future posts. :)

At 1:05 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I remembered your geographic history shortly after posting that. West Park really is a special place, with so many strong anchors, including the OLA parish, which I assume you may have frequented. I do worry that the recent decision removing the residency requirement for Cleveland cops and firefighters could weaken the neighborhood. Any thoughts on that, Kim (or anyone else)?

At 4:24 PM, Blogger FreshGreenKim said...

I haven't lived in that neighborhood since 1997, so my info is somewhat dated... because the best part then WAS that my neighbors were those "required" to live there, alongside those of us who chose it. :)

I felt safe day/night, and while both Catholic & Lutheran, I had occasion to hit OLA as well as St. Pat's.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...


At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Sherri Henkin said...

I went back to your original post to see if you mentioned one of my favorites - the Learned Owl. And, of course, you did. Although I'm not a Hudson resident, that store is worth the drive (in nice weather!). They display Ohio writers easily, with comfy chairs right nearby.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Ironically, Sherri, Hudson is also now home to that great Mex restaurant I mentioned earlier, Luchita's, so Hudson now has at least two powerful reasons for me to visit (the bookstore and restaurant are just a short walk apart). And Learned Owl also seems to have more convenient hours than when I was initially complaining about that. And Hudson is just a great place in general to visit.


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