Support Wisconsin Booksellers for Independent Bookstore Day


When she opened her bookstore in Sturgeon Bay in 2018, Liz Welter envisioned it as a gathering place for the community.

Since then, she and co-owner John Maggitti have seen everything from first dates to proposals at Novel Bay Booksellers, their boutique at 44 N. Third Ave.

These experiences and connections to the community are at the heart of Independent Bookstore Day, an annual celebration of independent bookstores that encourages consumers to shop small with special events, offers and advertising.

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For this year’s event on April 30, Welter and Maggitti will include a free book with every purchase. Books will be handpicked by the owners based on what customers have selected for themselves that day.

Novel Bay Booksellers, 44 North Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay.

“(Customers) love surprise,” Welter said. “It introduces them to an author or subject they hadn’t thought of.”

At the start of the pandemic, the social aspect of their business was put on the back burner and they were forced to create a website, listing all of their wares online in three incredibly full days.

In 2020, Novel Bay did little to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day, trying to avoid drawing crowds to its store. However, as people have started coming back to the store in 2021, they’ve seen success with their book giveaways, which they hope to see again this year.

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Independent Bookstore Day events are different from bookstore to bookstore. For example, Lion’s Mouth Bookstore, 401 N. Washington St. in Green Bay, celebrates the day with two author readings, 15% off used books, and free coffee mugs with a $50 purchase. .

With at least 49 independent bookstores in Wisconsin and nearly 200 in the Midwest, there are plenty of options for shopping.

Cathy Allard, owner of Bayshore Books at 302 Collins Ave. in Oconto, said it was important to support independent booksellers because, as members of their communities, they are able to tailor their stock to the community better than larger retailers.

“The books on our shelves are essentially books that are of interest to customers in our community,” Allard said. “We don’t just bring bestseller lists, we actually create our own bestseller lists.”

Welter said smaller stores also tend to hire avid readers who know different genres and can provide recommendations. While Welter is familiar with literary fiction, historical fiction, and children’s books, Maggitti can help customers looking for books on current affairs, history, science, and politics.

Novel Bay Booksellers co-owner John Maggitti laughs with customers at the Sturgeon Bay bookstore.

Stores like Bayshore and Novel Bay are connected to and support other local businesses. Bayshore sells works by local artists, and Allard is full of recommendations for places local buyers can visit to meet a variety of needs.

Novel Bay buys items like coffee, t-shirts and plushies from local retailers and Welter also encourages customers to shop at their businesses.

“That tax that you pay when you buy the books stays local,” Welter said. “If you shop downtown and shop locally, that supports us all.”

Here’s a list of Wisconsin bookstores you can visit on Independent Bookseller Day according to the 2022 Midwest Independent Booksellers Roadmap created by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association. Check their website for a more complete list.

Northwestern Wisconsin

Northeastern Wisconsin

Central Wisconsin

Southwestern Wisconsin

Madison Area – South-Central Wisconsin

Milwaukee – Southeast Wisconsin area

Alexandria Bursiek Kloehn is a business reporter for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. You can reach her at [email protected] or check out her Twitter profile at @bursiekkloehn.

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