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Development News

Subtext bookstore goes into old Common Good space in St. Paul

It's hard to imagine a bookstore not 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 story here.)
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
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