It's hard to imagine a bookstore
being in the basement space of the historic Blair Arcade building in St. Paul--at least that's how building owner June Berkowitz feels.
So, when Common Good Books
, which writer and radio personality Garrison Keillor owns, relocated to the Macalester College
campus, she got to work finding a new bookstore tenant. (See The Line
Today, Berkowitz is a partner in the venture; Sue Zumberge owns the shop. Berkowitz, who also owns Nina’s Coffee Café, which is above the basement-level bookstore, is helping by offsetting the cost of rent and utilities. She went that route because “I decided it was important to do what I could do," she says.
Although the place’s redesign is still in progress, it has already taken on a different atmosphere from the former Keillor bookstore, with plenty of soft seating and a red-tufted bar that dates back to the 1940s. They're going for sort of a parlor feel, Berkowitz says. The bar had once been in a building on Summit Avenue, she adds. “It’s very cozy. It’s supposed to be an extension of Nina’s as a community gathering place.”
The built-in bookshelves, which will be a design centerpiece, are getting a facelift, too.
Already, the space is starting to live up to the community vision that she and Zumberge share, she says.
Besides author readings and other kinds of art-related events, including a teen program, the space is a good spot for meetings or quiet readings. The idea is to “fill it up with people. It’s not just [for] browsing for books, but people are able to hang out,” she says.
The bookstore plans to have its grand opening in September.
Source: June Berkowitz, Nina’s Coffee Café and building landlord for Subtext
Writer: Anna Pratt