Tina Greene-Bevington hopes to position her new general-interest bookstore, Bay Books, as a cultural gathering place for the community of Suttons Bay, Michigan, when it opens close to Memorial Day.
The store’s 650-square-foot space is located on St. Joseph Street, one of the main thoroughfares in the village, which is set on the Leelanau Peninsula, extending about 30 miles from the state’s Lower Peninsula into Lake Michigan.
“I started looking at this location last year on a beautiful fall day, and I liked the way the light hit the walls and filtered through the windows,” said Greene-Bevington. “I could just immediately envision what I could do with it as a bookstore.”
Sailing, boating, stand-up paddling, biking, and hiking the Sleeping Bear Dunes are all popular activities for the tourists who flood the area every summer, said Greene-Bevington, adding to the village’s year-round population of 5,000 residents.
“It will be a small indie bookstore where people can come and browse or read or maybe have a cup of tea or coffee and just feel comfortable,” she said. “We want to provide a warm, inviting environment where people can read and also gather as a community. In the nicer months we’ll have outdoor seating and set out water for dogs walking by. I like to garden, so we’ll also have flowers and flower beds that catch your eye and bring people in.”
Greene-Bevington is currently retired after working in education administration and teaching graduate classes in math and science. She also has a culinary arts degree and operated a small business in Grand Rapids teaching cooking courses and hosting wine-tasting dinners; she still sometimes works as a personal chef.
“When I retired, I wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go, a culinary or a bookstore business, but ever since I can remember I wanted to have a bookstore,” she said. “Lots of my friends here own shops and I asked them what they thought about a bookstore, and everyone said, oh my god, yes!”
Bay Books will sell general titles, children’s literature, nonfiction titles including books on science and math, some used books, non-book items like gifts and cards, and regional titles and books on food and wine. In fact, there are 40 wineries on the peninsula and some of the owners have written books themselves.
“We have some great authors living on this peninsula and throughout the state. I personally know nine or 10 who I will be talking to about coming to the store to talk about their books,” she said.
Greene-Bevington previously worked in public relations for Proctor & Gamble, so she already has a few marketing initiatives planned as well. In addition to being on Facebook, she is also working on finalizing her website and compiling a list of e-mail addresses for a monthly e-mail blast. She has created promotional postcards to hand-deliver to businesses and shop owners in the village and decorated the front of her building with a banner announcing the store’s May 2018 opening.
She also currently belongs to two wine-themed book clubs, Reading Between the Wines and Reading Between the Vines, and both have accepted her invitation to hold their meetings at the store on occasion. She plans to start her own book clubs as well and to participate in all sorts of village-wide events, from art walks to local festivals to sidewalk sales.
“Part of a bookstore is just being visible and being out there and letting people know this is a place to go, that this is their bookstore,” she said. “We want to provide a place of respite where you can free your mind to go places, while enjoying the surroundings.”
This past weekend, Greene-Bevington picked up some signed books at a local reading by Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of one of her book club’s recent selections, The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It (HarperBusiness). Going forward, she plans to join the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA) and the ABC Children’s Group at ABA and has already purchased Paz & Associates’ “Owning a Bookstore” handbook.
“What I’m most excited about, though,” said Greene-Bevington, “is meeting people — relaxing with them, talking with them, and hearing about what books they’ve read, what they like, what they want, and why.”