Used book store opens in Clarks Grove

Published 8:31 am Thursday, August 2, 2012

By Kessa Albright

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CLARKS GROVE — With Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other major booksellers increasing their online presence through electronic tablets and e-readers, bookstores opening up are not common. But there is a new one in Clarks Grove.

A Bit Bookish, which also sells products by local artisans, opened its doors last November on Main Street.

“I had it in my mind that someday I would open up a used bookstore,” said Kim Hammer, part-owner of the store.

That day came last spring when the owner of the old bank building in Clarks Grove expressed an interest of renting the bottom half of the building. Hammer and her mother, Crystal, starting spreading the word and advertising their need for used books. According to Hammer, there was a good response from people in Austin.

Then in the summer of 2011, they started the process of cleaning out the building, and painting and tiling it.

The day after Thanksgiving the store opened its doors. Hammer said that after The Constant Reader bookstore in Albert Lea closed in December 2006, people were looking for a place to buy and sell used books. Customers can bring books in for store credit.

Local artisans sell their products there, too; and while the store doesn’t receive any profit from the sales of the products, Hammer said it helps each of the businesses draw more customers.

“We have one person helping another kind of relationship,” Hammer said.

Prairie Essence sells all natural beauty products like lotion, shampoo and anti-aging cream at the store. Judy Olson, a two-time cancer survivor, makes her own cards from the ones people sent her during her treatments and sells them for $1 there.

A Bit Bookish offers stuffed chairs and a fireplace in the reading area. If a customer stays long enough, Kim or Crystal will serve them a beverage and a treat. People can come in and read The New York Times and local newspapers, too.

“They can make themselves at home,” Hammer said.

And like most bookstores, there is a children’s section, which is filled with books and a large, stuffed caterpillar.