Bookstore tourists: Bunch of Grapes in Martha’s Vineyard
By Michael on July 11th, 2012
Today we start a series of posts on a subject we obviously all love here at OOM: Bookstores!
As the summer heats up in New York City, The Scholastic Store welcomes visitors from all over the world. It got me thinking about my own visits to bookstores whenever I’m on vacation. When you hit up a travel spot, is a bookstore one of the first places you visit? And does it tell you a lot about the city or town you’re in? We think so!
Bookstores are uniquely suited to represent the character of a destination in their design, staff and most importantly, book selection. The experience of a bookstore, and by extension a vacation, can live on the pages of a mystery set in a sleepy little seaside town or even a far-off adventure read on its beaches.
So break out your sunblock, travel maps and bookmarks! We are going on a trip. All summer we’ll be blogging about some bookstores in vacation destinations. Just call us the Bookstore Tourists!
If you were vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, where would you go for books?
Well, for President Obama, the answer was Bunch of Grapes Bookstore!
And it’s not just the first family…A Yelp review of Bunch of Grapes starts with “Anytime we vacation at our cottage in Oak Bluffs, we must stop here.” The reviewer goes on to say her trip to Bunch of Grapes is a ritual she has come to associate with reading “on the beach, or sitting on the porch enjoying a beautiful New England summer’s night.” Its reviews like this one and many others that helped make Bunch of Grapes our first stop in this blog series!
Bunch of Grapes (BOG) has been on Main Street in Martha’s Vineyard, just a stone’s throw from the ferry terminal, for over 40 years. That means they have been part of the vacations of generations of visitors, and unlike many other businesses on Martha’s Vineyard, they stay open year-round. Children’s Buyer Susan Savor, says that this makes them “the hub of off-season island life.” They hold regular events (including storytime hosted by the kids buyer!), and kids are offered the chance to write book reviews. BOG even runs book fairs for the local elementary schools. All of this community involvement made a big difference when a fire hit the store and they had to rebuild. Savory says, “Community support has been great!” A glance at their Facebook page shows their patrons are just as excited for their reopening as the staff!
I imagine this also makes for a more authentic vineyard experience for summer tourists, too. If the clock on the street has anything to say about it, reading is a big in Martha’s Vineyard! And BOG is full of bestsellers and favorites. Susan Savory says she’s “especially fond of (selling) books that cross category boundaries like Wonderstruck and Hugo Cabret, Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, Wildwood by Colin Meloy, I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen and everything by Libba Bray.” BOG also offers a whole section of Vineyard-specific books, including some pretty amazing looking cookbooks and books about the island’s history.
The staff at Bunch of Grapes are all devoted booksellers and maintain a page of recommendations on their site. (As someone who runs a bookstore, I really think this is amazing!) In speaking with Susan, you can’t help but appreciate her love of kid’s books. She told me about a recent spike in sales of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler because of the popularity of Wonderstruck and her passion really came through: “That’s an example of the very best thing that can happen in a bookstore and I’m glad, glad, glad to be a part of it!”
Well Susan, we’re glad, glad, glad we made Bunch of Grapes a stop for the Bookstore Tourist!
Readers: what’s your favorite vacation-area bookstore?