There is happy news about bookstores, here on the eve of Independent Bookstore Day.
Milkweed Books, the charming, thoughtfully curated store on the ground floor of the Open Book building in downtown Minneapolis, is making plans to reopen after being closed for two years due to COVID-19.
Storied Owl Books has just reopened at their bricks-and-mortar store at 2059 Randolph Av., St. Paul — Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.
SubText Books in downtown St. Paul is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
And Uncle Hugo's and Uncle Edgar's bookstore — the deeply beloved science fiction and mystery store owned by Don Blyly — has found a new home. The "uncles," as the store is known, burned during the unrest that took place in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd. Now, two years on, the store will reopen at 2716 E. 31st St., just a half-block away from Moon Palace Bookstore.
"They can see my building out their front window," Blyly said.
With the help of a $50,000 grant from the Lake Street Council — money earmarked to help businesses that were damaged or destroyed during the riots — Blyly purchased the former Glass Endeavors building. It took him 18 months to find a suitable location, Blyly said, and then another six months to close. The Glass Endeavors owners, who are retiring, wanted time to wind down their business.
Now, there's quite a bit of work that has to take place before opening day — sanding and repairing floors, installing bookcases, ordering stock, figuring out inventory. (About 150,000 books were destroyed in the fire; Blyly has another 20,000 books in his home.)
"I'm looking forward to everything being accomplished someday," Blyly said. The proximity to Moon Palace, he said, should be beneficial to both stores.
Unlike the previous incarnations of Uncle Edgar's and Uncle Hugo's, there won't be separate rooms for science fiction and mystery, because the new place is all one big room, but he plans to separate the genres.
If all goes well — sanding, repairing, installing, ordering — the doors will open sometime in June.
Meanwhile, Independent Bookstore Day comes, as always, on the last Saturday of April, celebrating indies across the country.
And once again, Rain Taxi Review is producing the annual Twin Cities Indie Bookstores Passport, designed by local artist Kevin Cannon, which customers can get stamped at any (or all) of 19 bookstores across the metro area, thus qualifying for prizes and discounts.
Here's a sampling of local events, but check your favorite indie for more:
The pop-up store Babycake's Book Stack bookmobile will open its season in the parking lot of Moon Palace, 3032 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls., with author events and music.
Next Chapter Booksellers, 38 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, will host Native writers Diane Wilson and Marcie Rendon for book signings — Rendon at noon, and Wilson at 2 p.m.
Cream and Amber, 1605 Mainstreet, Hopkins, will offer 15% off all staff picks and will also offer food, coffee and beer specials, including scones with flavors inspired by literary characters. Author signings include Mindy Mejia at 11 a.m., Jennifer Wilson at 1 p.m., and Jess Lourey at 5 p.m.
Black Garnet Books isn't quite ready to open their bricks and mortar store — that will happen later this year — but they are offering free shipping from their website. Just use the code IBD22.
Red Balloon, 891 Grand Av., St. Paul, plans scratch-off prizes, a puppet show and live music on the patio.
Wild Rumpus, 2720 W. 43rd St., Mpls., will have an outdoor table (weather-permitting) with giveaways.
Excelsior Bay Books, 36 Water St., Excelsior, will host authors Meg McAndrews Cowden at 11 a.m., and Mikaela Casey at 1 p.m.
SubText, 6 W. 5th St., St. Paul, will have a special discount on Jeff Deutsch's "In Praise of Good Bookstores," along with other favorites, and will be announcing a full summer of celebration in honor of its 10th anniversary.
Pick an indie! Get a passport! We are rich in bookstores here. It's time to celebrate.