The Little Guys

This Saturday, April 24, is Independent Bookstore Day – which I’ve written about here before – five years ago now (!) .

We have a little bookstore here in Winona called Paperbacks and Pieces. It’s mostly a paperback exchange except for one corner of new books, and a shelf of popular new titles that you can rent. They will do special orders for individuals and book clubs. Pre-pandemic, they hosted author signings (including our Chris from Owatanna!), local speakers, and occasional local group meetings. Spring and Fall would bring a huge Sidewalk Sale – actually in the side street which was closed off for the occasion.  They’ve been everything I want in a local, independent shop. P & P recently changed owners, but I have no doubt they’ll continue in this same vein.  The other local bookstore (not counting Target & Walmart) is downtown, Chapter 2 Books – used and vintage books, CDs, DVDs – which I also try to support; different vibe, and they have a wonderful cat.

The Big Box retailers did awfully well in the past year, according to this August 2020 article from the New York Times .  As we come out of isolation, I know some of our favorite places – restaurants, coffee shops, small independent businesses like hardware stores – have already gone under. A lot of the remaining ones are struggling to survive, hungry for customers as we start to open up again. I occasionally notice on Facebook posting for one of these places, and share them when I can – like this one for Swede Hollow Café in St. Paul, where I loved to go when I lived in the Cities.

Do you have any favorite small businesses in your vicinity that you will support, as we “open up” from isolation?

Have any of your favorites disappeared with the pandemic (or before)?

28 thoughts on “The Little Guys”

  1. RIse and Shine Baboons,

    I am not an enthusiastic shopper, so most small businesses that I want to support are restaurants or coffee shops and there are some of those around. Tavern 4 and 5 in Eden Prairie is a particular favorite. They also set up a tent in the parking lot last summer so we could still eat there. Bookstores are a shop I also love, but I have been steering clear of them for some time, so I don’t know if any have closed.

    Before COVID stores that sold clothing I liked were disappearing rapidly. I do not know what I will do about that, except hope for the best and hang on to the clothing I have forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I rarely purchase books these days, being a devoted library user. I think my favorite small business would have to be my little hardware store. They are affiliated with Ace but they’re independently owned. I also like Anchor Paper — it’s a paper company but they have a small store front for stamping supplies and papers and inks. I was just there this week.

    The dog training place that I like didn’t make it through pandemic. Not that I’d be able to go there yet but I’m sorry they didn’t survive. Another place that didn’t survive, not from pandemic but the ruckus after 911, was a wonderful little restaurant over near where Steve used to live called Caravan Serai. It was wonderful and I still think about it every now and then.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That was our favorite restaurant, and I’m still haunted by memories of menu items from that place. We were friends with the owner. I think we bought takeout from them about once a week. I’ve never found food like that anywhere. I think the cook was from a particular region that had specialties you don’t even see in most Afghani restaurants.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. One of my favorite “writing” coffee shops survived and I’m supporting them more than before, mainly because my other favorite writing coffee shop closed in December. I patronize my local hardware store even though it’s an Ace Hardware franchise. Still easier and faster to find a nut or a bolt of a tool there than at the Lowe’s in town.

    Many of the bookstores with which I have experience are still hanging on and deserve our patronage if we’re book buyers. Once Upon A Crime in Minneapolis is a gem if you love all books crime/mystery/thriller. They are SO supportive of local authors.

    Small businesses are more important than ever if only for the sense of community they foster in this time of divisiveness. It might cost a bit more money to shop at a small business vs, a big box chain, but consider the time, gas, and hassle you save by shopping small.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Depends on how broadly we draw our “vicinity” but yesterday Robin and I drove down to Maiden Rock, Wisconsin to visit Cultural Cloth. It bills itself as a home goods store featuring (mostly) textile art from indigenous artisans from around the world but as far as we are concerned it’s like visiting an art gallery. Robin, who is engaged in many forms of fiber art, finds it especially inspiring but it’s eye candy to me.
    Usually we end up buying something but we’ve reached a kind of saturation point where we don’t have any more available wall space or couches or beds where we could display a piece so we let it ride for now. Undoubtedly we’ll be back there before long. Just driving along Lake Pepin is a pleasure.
    Here’s Cultural Cloth:

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I have driven through Maiden Rock but have never been in that store. Will have to make a point of visiting it the next time we’re down that way. It’s such a scenic drive, and could make for a nice day trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t been out and about much since March of last year, so unless it was reported in the paper, I have no idea what has happened or is happening to most my favorite small businesses.

    I know that Khyber Pass was struggling financially even before the pandemic, but apparently they are still holding on. It’s another family owned and run Afghani restaurant. Excellent food, but only offers the traditional American restaurant seating. No low tables and cushions on the floor under a parachute tent. But a really sweet family; well worth supporting.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Curran’s Restaurant was a victim of 2020 – that one still hurts. They were our go-to place for decades. I can’t say that I blame Dennis for selling when he could – I’m sure the money he got for the property will make for a decent retirement. Still, it’s a loss of community – the sort of place where they remember your order, ask after your family, and serve up a good slice of pie to boot.

    Thankfully, my nearby paperback exchange has survived. As have my favorite hardware stores (yes, I have more than one).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s the one. I love its tiny warren of narrow passages and stacks of books. Also, they are really good about ordering stuff if I want new or it’s a title they don’t have. Super nice people. Only thing that would make it better is a book store cat. Or a dog.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. The main casualty in my neighborhood was the local donut shop, Granny Donuts. People often used to call it Granny’s Donuts, but that wasn’t the name. It was just Granny Donuts. An elderly couple ran it, and had no help. When the pandemic struck, they closed up shop and never reopened. They had worked there or three decades or more, and were probably due to retire anyway, but I was sorry to see the shop go. It’s been torn down now.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. OT, my old kitty, Sammy, has gone on to his reward. He was a lovely old fellow, probably about twenty years old. He purred almost constantly. If he wasn’t eating or sleeping, he was probably purring. I’ll miss his purr.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We lost our Goltz Pharmacy to the pandemic – a real old fashioned drug store, last one in downtown area. Customers got transferred over to… Walgreen’s, of course. Had terrific customer service, and I’ll miss them.


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