Around Indies

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

ASTRA Honors Steven Aarons of Barston’s Child’s Play

Steven Aarons, owner of Barston’s Child’s Play, which has four locations in the Washington, D.C., area, selling books, toys, and games, was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) at its annual awards breakfast and business meeting on June 6 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

With more than 30 years in the toy industry, Aarons, chair of the ASTRA Board of Directors from 2010–2011, was recognized for being a driving force behind several ASTRA initiatives, including the Best Toys for Kids awards program and Neighborhood Toy Store Day. He also encouraged ASTRA’s efforts regarding toy safety issues and sales tax fairness.

“Honoring Steven Aarons with the Lifetime Achievement Award is our way of saying thank you,” said Kimberly Mosley, president of ASTRA. “He has done much to grow and strengthen the specialty toy industry, and his impact will be felt for years to come.”

Founded in 1992, ASTRA is an international not-for-profit trade organization that serves more than 1,800 independent retailers, manufacturers, and sales representatives in the specialty toy industry.

Books & Books Pops Up in Wynwood, Florida

South Florida’s Books & Books debuted a pop-up shop, Books + Books + Bikes + LEBO, in Wynwood, Florida, in late May, reported

The shop carries more than 2,000 discounted hardcover and paperback books, many of which are out-of-print or remaindered titles. It also features bikes, used vinyl records, and artwork from Miami muralist David “LEBO” Le Batard.

“I’ve always had this idea of bringing a bunch of independent businesses together under one roof,” said Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan. “I might even sell old typewriters here at some point. We’re only selling tangible things, objects that are not digitized.”

The pop-up will operate in its warehouse storefront for a year or more, added Kaplan. A grand opening celebration featuring a DJ, an open mic reading, and snacks will take place on June 28.

Eagle Harbor Book Company Changes Hands

Bainbridge Island, Washington’s Eagle Harbor Book Company has been purchased by Jane and Dave Danielson from owners Morley Horder, Tim Hunter, and René Kirkpatrick, reported the Bainbridge Island Review.

The Danielsons are longtime residents of the island. Jane Danielson has been a bookseller and the events coordinator at the bookstore for several years, while Dave Danielson is an attorney.

“Since moving to Bainbridge Island, this special community, and particularly this bookstore, have nourished and supported me and I plan to pay it forward,” said Jane Danielson. “We will continue to provide meticulous service, while expanding our focus to becoming a hub for cultural discourse and community discussions.”

Eagle Harbor opened as Betty’s Books in 1969. Horder bought the store in 1997, then brought on Kirkpatrick and Hunter in 2012 to assist in all areas of operation. Both Kirkpatrick and Hunter will remain on staff.

Auntie’s Bookstore Ownership Update

As reported last week, John Waite, owner of Merlyn’s Comic and Games, has purchased Spokane, Washington’s Auntie’s Bookstore from owners Shannon Ahern and Chris O’Harra.

June 1 marked the beginning of a transition of ownership, clarified head book buyer Melissa Opel, as O’Harra currently remains the sole owner and operator of Auntie’s Inc. During the transition, Waite will begin training with staff, learn the day-to-day operations of the store, and spend time getting to know Auntie’s customer base.

“Chris’ health has led her to look towards retirement but [she] will be in-store the majority of the transition period as an integral part of the training process,” reported Opel.

Sandi Torkildson of A Room of One’s Own to Retire

Madison, Wisconsin’s A Room of One’s Own, a general interest bookstore with strong children’s and young adult, women’s studies, and LGBT fiction and nonfiction sections, is up for sale as co-owner Sandi Torkildson looks ahead to retirement, reported the Wisconsin State Journal. Torkildson and business partner Nancy Geary, the bookstore’s majority shareholders (nine others have smaller shares), have hired the bookstore training group Paz & Associates to field inquiries.

“You really only exist because of the support of your customers, and so since they have been there and have supported us we have a responsibility to make sure we sell the store to somebody that understands that,” Torkildson said. “For any small-business owner that has done this, you feel like it is such a part of you that you want to make sure that it goes on to somebody that will continue it. We may not get as much as we want, but that’s not the most critical issue to us.”

Torkildson hopes to catch up on her reading, ride her bike, cook, and spend more time with her husband after 41 years at the bookstore, which she founded with four others in 1975 as a feminist bookstore. Torkildson is also a small business advocate and plans to join the board of directors of Dane Buy Local, the county’s local first organization.

Novel Books Celebrates Five Years

Novel Books owner and grill master Patrick Darby

Patrick Darby, owner of Novel Books in Clarksburg, Maryland, held a cookout on June 4 to share hamburgers, brats, chili, salad, and fruit with customers in celebration of the bookstore’s fifth anniversary. The event was attended by new customers and regulars.

“We were concerned about the severe weather predictions over the weekend,” said Darby, “But the rain held off, and the sun came out in the afternoon.”

Among the attendees were members of the Clarksburg Newcomers Group, which welcomes new residents to the community. The group gathered on the front porch for a mixer with new residents and local business owners.