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The Best Bookstore In The World

by Janice Munday, New London, CT, USA


We have the most wonderful used book store near us -- it's made up of five or six separate buildings scattered on about a quarter-acre of wooded land, with paths through the trees leading from one to the other. It looks like a smallish campground/tourist park, rather than a commercial store.

The central area is relatively open, with swings, slides, playhouses, and picnic tables. They invite you to come and eat lunch, and browse while your kids play, even if you don't intend to buy. (Though you usually do end up buying!)

The best part, though? The (at last count) four cats and two big, lovable lunks of dogs who live there. You're sure to be escorted from building to building by at least one cat, "following ahead of you" and telling you all about the Great New Books they've just put in this one, adding themselves to the ever-present tripping hazards of tree roots, toys, and happy kids, chasing and being chased by dogs.

Or one (or two) cats will join you in curling up in one of the big, deep armchairs that are in each building, while you "just make sure" that this is the book you want -- if they haven't staked out the comfiest chair already, for their own use, that is.

One of the chairs in the Mystery Shed is labeled "I belong to 3B -- Do Not Sit Here Without Permission!" (3B -- Big Black Beast -- is very protective of his chair, and gets upset if it's being used by a Mere Customer when he wants it. You'll Hear About It, if you dare to do such a Horribly Impolite Thing as sit in his chair! He has an... um "interesting" vocabulary, too. <grin>

The animals all have free run of the whole place (I think they own it, actually, and selling books is only a ruse to get people to come in to pet them, play with them, and feed them treats) except on the Saturday afternoon/evening before Easter. The owners (the humans, I mean) have a huge Easter Egg Hunt every year for all the nursery-school and kindergarten age kids who want to come, and their pets, and they have to confine the animals until it starts. They begin hiding the eggs (the hollow plastic ones, which they fill with candy for the kids and treats for the kids' pets) on Saturday night, and if the animals are loose, they collect eggs. Carol and Mark have said that it's very discouraging to (finally!) get all the upwards of five hundred eggs hidden, then go back to the main building -- and discover that every single animal is guarding their own private stash, which they've retrieved and piled in front of the door... <grin>

Which reminds me -- when is Easter this year? I have to get a few bags of candy and some pet treats to take to them. They don't solicit contributions, but they accept them gladly. Last year I'd picked up a huge bag of the plastic eggs at a tag sale, to take along with the fillers. Their animals always manage to abscond with a few of the eggs for themselves, and there are always a few that just don't get found, even with all the kids and animals hunting for them. <grin>

It's a wonderful place, especially on a nice summer day -- there's something special about a store that invites you to spend some Quiet Time sitting out under the trees, reading and sharing your lunch with a cat (or three) and the dogs while your kids play. Or to spend a wet day curled up in one of the chairs with a purring cat while the rain pounds on the roof of whichever building you're in... (3B has a purr that is like none I've ever heard before, and I've heard a lot of purring cats. He's clearly audible from outside whichever building he's in, or all the way across the picnic/play area.)

The main building, the largest one, even has a big stone fireplace kept burning on any wet and/or chilly day, with couches and chairs around it, and a there's a coffee/espresso/cappucino machine with big heavy mugs, and homemade cookies, danish and sweet buns, all available at a nominal cost. (The cats keep a sharp eye on the milk pitcher, and expect a share of the whipped cream, whether you planned to have some or not.)

I'm sorry to run on about a bookstore in a NG that's about cats, but I love this place (have you gathered that? <grin> ), and they do have cats there -- several of them, all fat and sassy, "helpful" and friendly. It's my idea of the perfect bookstore; what could possibly be better? Mark and Carol have the right idea, IMO -- to enjoy what you're doing, and please the customers in the process.

There are a lot of used book stores in this area, and most of them have at least one cat, but there's only one store like this one. I wish there were more!


I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know the Official name of the bookstore (it's just THE Bookstore to us), or the proper town that it's in. One of the towns between here and Saybrook, but small New England places tend to run together without any proper (or even vague, often) demarcations. I just know how to get there -- that's the Important Part to me. <grin>

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