Austin is a little sweeter; New book and candy store opens on Main Street

Published 10:23 am Monday, June 6, 2016

At first glance, customers could mistake new bookstore Sweet Reads for a childhood dream. On one wall, a large wooden train car filled with historical books and magazines invites patrons to walk through and explore a bit of history. Right next to it sits a giant ice cream sundae shaped freezer stocked with frozen treats. Other sections of the store are dedicated to different genres of books: a platinum and futuristic looking case houses science-fiction novels, a colorful children’s section contains stories any youngster would long to read, and scattered throughout on tables and chairs are top-sellers in demand.

For owner Lisa Deyo and her husband John, they want the book store to be more than just rows of shelves.

“We want it to be an experience,” John said.

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After months of cleaning, brainstorming and constructing the store, Sweet Reads officially opened Friday. The book and candy store offers a variety of books, sweet treats and local items.

“It’s so exciting,” Lisa said.

Although the idea officially cemented this January, Lisa and her sister have discussed the idea of opening a book store for many years. The pair, both teachers, grew up loving books.

“I raised my kids in book stores,” Lisa said.

With help from friends and family, the store became a reality. However, there were still challenges along the way. Lisa had many different visions of what the store could be, but she did not have the time or money to pursue them all.

“We had so many different ideas,” Lisa said.

The store is fully stocked with books, but they take requests based on what customers want as well. “When people talk, we listen,” Lisa said. However, this has also been difficult for her because she can’t order everything.

“I want to order everything and everybody’s favorites, but I can’t,” she said.

An aspect of the store Lisa wants to emphasize are the local and regional items. The store carries books written by Austin authors, as well as books and magazines about Minnesota. Eventually, she plans to carry Austin and Minnesota clothing as well.

“We want that to be a huge part [of the store],” she said.

They want to play up another aspect of the Austin community as well. With the Spam Museum located across the street from Sweet Reads, they hope people will stop by the store after visiting the museum.

“We want to carry on a sense of adventure for people coming from the Spam Museum,” John said.

That’s part of why Lisa enlisted John’s help in turning the space into a destination. John used his set-building skills as a veteran of several Summerset Theatre productions to build the train car and creative book cases around the store.

“We want picture opportunities everywhere,” Lisa said.

The store offers a variety of items and activities for customers and is more than just reading materials. Sweet Reads carries a variety of local candy and products. Dianne Sherman is in charge of candy, which she describes as “vintage and retro.” Curly Girlz Candy in Medford supplies fudge and other treats. There are also handcrafted cards and painted stones made by Susan DeVries. In the future, Lisa plans to bring author visits and book talks to the store. She also hinted at an upcoming exhibit in June which she can “barely contain [her] excitement” about.

Overall, Lisa hopes the store will offer the community a taste of something new.

“Our motto is ‘Making the world a little sweeter and smarter,’” Lisa said.

Sweet Reads will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this summer, although they may open earlier for new book releases. The store is located at 407 N. Main St.

—Jason Schoonover contributed to this report.