Common Good Books debuts in Macalester home

By Kyle Coombs

The Macalester Groveland community welcomed Common Good Books on Monday with open arms—not to mention Breadsmith treats, flowers from Macalester College and plenty of sales. “The first day is going very well,” said spokesperson David Enyeart. “We’ve had a great reception from the community.” Enyeart, the bookstore’s Assistant Manager and Event Coordinator, said Common Good Books’ new home in Macalester’s Lampert Building at 36 Snelling Ave. is much livelier than its old location at the intersection of Selby and Western. “It’s a busier corner here,” Enyeart said. “You have Dunn Brothers, the Cheese Shop and Breadsmith all nearby.” Enyeart explained that the store decided to delay the grand opening event until May 1-3, a move that accommodates owner Garrison Keillor’s schedule and allows the staff to work out a few management and layout issues. Keillor plans to host a poetry “free-for-all” in the Macalester Chapel on May 1 in honor of the grand opening and May Day. But the early move came from the staff’s eagerness to set up shop. “We couldn’t wait to get into the neighborhood,” Enyeart said. “Bright and friendly and bookish” Keillor said he is finishing a book in New York City and staying out of the way so the staff can get acclimatized in the new location without his micromanaging. He credits store manager Martin Schmutterer with the fast move and opening. “I’m the sort of person who comes up with great ideas about two months after the deadline has passed, so the store doesn’t want me around right now,” Keillor wrote in an email. “I’ve heard from a few people who’ve seen the new store and think it’s pretty wonderful, bright and friendly and bookish.” Several shoppers on Monday echoed Keillor’s informant on the store’s pleasant atmosphere. Steve Fillbrandt, a St. Louis Park resident who visited the old location occasionally, said he liked the new space. “It’s a very nice, new space … much airier,” Fillbrandt said. Minneapolis resident Mike Tegeder also said the new location was an improvement from the Selby building, which he had visited regularly. He plans to attend part of the grand opening in May. “I’ll probably be in once a month or so,” Tegeder said. “I want to be here a lot. [It] has a really nice design: very open, very welcoming.” Many members of the Macalester community stopped into the store throughout the day, including staff members Allison Greenlee, Mia Nosanow and Tanya Pfeffer. The three had different, but similarly positive, perspectives on the new store. “It’s nice to have a bookstore that cares about readers,” Pfeffer said. “I created [this] space on Foursquare, so hopefully I’m the mayor by tomorrow.” All in all, the new store’s debut was great for a soft opening, said staff member Kathy Born, especially considering the lack of advertising and newspaper articles covering the move. A store with many draws Greenlee mentioned the appeal to outsiders of having a private bookstore on campus. “I’m excited about the people this space will attract to Mac,” Greenlee said. Nosanow cited the personal benefits of having a bookstore so close. “We need this for our literature needs during our lunch break,” Nosanow said. Chemistry Professor Wayne Wolsey, who was curious about the store after hearing about it around campus, said he stopped in “because I support independent bookstores.” Wolsey added that the bookstore’s proximity to campus was nice, but he was curious whether there was enough parking. Enyeart said the store has designated spaces in the northern parking lot next to the Summit House, is renting a few spaces in the Dunn Brother’s parking lot and is petitioning the city of St. Paul to change the street parking in front of the store from 15 minutes to an hour. “Parking’s better here than at the old spot,” he said. Another staff member, Claudette Gacuti (whose official title, ‘Awesome Buyer’, speaks to the store’s quirkiness) said the proximity to Macalester and several other schools will bring in more students than the old location. “That’s a new thing for us,” Gacuti said. “The student demographic.” Zoë Rodine ’13 said the store will provide stress relief, but will also be “bad news for [her] wallet.” “I already have a book and I’m a happy girl,” she said. In defense of her purchase, she added, “I need it for my honors project.” Rodine found The Red Convertible by Louise Edrich in Common Good Books’ 75-percent-off section, which she said is “not just a dump.” Another student visitor, Brian Caldwell ’15, said the store’s layout made it easy to find books and explore. “I’ll probably come by often,” he said. “Don’t know how much I’ll buy, [but I’m] happy I don’t have my wallet right now.” Keillor has high hopes for the new location, especially since Common Good Books lost “a truckload of money” at its old spot. He is confident in both Schmutterer and Enyeart to break even and manage the store smartly. “A good independent bookstore is a lively place, quiet polite people in the aisles, lots of tumult and ferment on the shelves,” he wrote. “Macalester is the right place for us, a college where polite people try to tell the truth. refresh –>