Exciting new developments are happening under and around Nina's Coffee Cafe on Selby and Western in St. Paul's Cathedral Hill district.
A "G. Keillor Prop." sign will be hung underneath the archway on the corner the Common Good Bookstore scheduled to open Wednesday, November 1st.
The former Angus Hotel that once housed F. Scott Fitzgerald's mother, after her husband died and before she moved to Maryland to be near Scotty has been transformed into the Blair arcade where longtime tennant Nina's Coffee Cafe has been the cornerstone for coming and going into the block of salons, offices, condos, and boutique specialty shops.
Underneath Nina's, huddled among the stone arch foundation will be stacks of poetry, literature and non-fiction in Keillor's first venture into retail bookselling under the management of Sue Zumberge. a former Montana bookstore owner. Keillor promises books by local authors and a wide selection of independent offerings of literary taste.
It is not yet known if Common Good will offer a range of quality periodicals, daily news, retail media variety such as books on tape, select CDs and DVDs by Prairie Home Productions and other Keillor branded materials but these are likely compliments to Keillor's broad palet of poetry, classical literature, political opinion, American and local history, and philosophical ruminations.
Clearly, in order to suvive, Common Good Books will need to find a niche and selection not offered by the chain stores to make the store a neighborhood destination. Keillor has the prominence to drive traffic to the store, in the short term out of curiousity, however, will need to build on it through special events, readings, and appearances by noteworthy authors and subjects. Rumor has it, Keillor might even record a few segments of "The Writers' Almanac" for bookstore vistors to witness
While it is easy for Keillor and his cohorts to lament the loss of great independent bookstores in the Twin Cities, however, Zumberge and her employees must make the experience of visiting Common Good unique and rarified. The romance of the bookstore and unaffiliated bookseller are hollow unless there is the distinctive and unusal atmosphere and attention to particular detail to draw customers away from the Borders or Barnes & Noble chain stores.
We all wait with anticipation to see just what those special differences will be at Common Good Books for the average person who walks in off the street as well as the avid reader with a "think global, buy local" conviction.