Bluebird Books to open next month in downtown Detroit Lakes
"Bluebirds are a symbol of happiness, and bookstores have always been my happy place," says Detroit Lakes resident Amy Erickson, discussing the choice of name for her new business, Bluebird Books. The independent local bookstore will open its doors at 813 Washington Avenue in mid-May.
DETROIT LAKES — "It's been my lifelong dream."
That's the answer Amy Erickson gives when asked why she decided to open her own independent bookstore in downtown Detroit Lakes.
"I honestly didn't think I'd be able to make it happen," she added. "I don't have any experience in retail. My background is in food service, education and the hotel business."
But after lengthy discussions/negotiations with her husband, Jed, a lot of research and some careful location scouting, Bluebird Books will open its doors at 813 Washington Avenue (next door to Roasted) in mid-May. An official start date is yet to be determined.
"Bluebirds are a symbol of happiness, and bookstores have always been my happy place," Erickson said, explaining the choice of name. "I've been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember."
It was her love of books, and the desire to spread that passion to younger generations of readers, that led Erickson to establish the Lakes Area Imagination Library in 2011 — just a year after she and Jed moved their family to Jed's childhood hometown of Detroit Lakes.
Prior to that, the Ericksons had been raising their children — Alex, Anika and Jake — in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where Jed is still involved in the family business, Cabo Villas Beach Resort and Spa.
Since moving to Detroit Lakes nearly 12 years ago, Erickson has primarily been a stay-at-home mom, though she is also a member of the Detroit Lakes School Board (since being elected to her first term in 2016) and an active volunteer for a variety of causes.
The one dearest to her heart, she said, is the local Imagination Library, which is part of the national nonprofit organization started by entertainer Dolly Parton in 1995 . The organization puts free books into the hands of kids between the ages of zero and 5.
Parents who register their young children at imaginationlibrarydl.org get one free book delivered to their home each month, which adds up to 12 books a year, at no cost to them. Since 2014, the local chapter has served all of Becker County.
While she will continue to be involved in that effort, Erickson's focus is now directed toward the establishment of her new business.
"I'm leasing 1,550 square feet of space next to Roasted," said Erickson, noting that the space used to be home to 180 Balance yoga and fitness studio, which has relocated to the Washington Square Mall.
The store will stock more than 8,000 new books in the full range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction, as well as children's, young adult and adult titles. Erickson said she has no plans to include used books at this time, though the store will have a variety of greeting cards, comic books, kids' toys, puzzles, coffee mugs and other gift items.
The store will have a casual seating area with sofas, tables and chairs scattered about so people can browse through books prior to purchasing them. There are no plans to offer food or beverages.
"Eventually, I'd like to host book signings and things of that nature," Erickson said, adding that there will be spaces available in the store for groups like quilters and book clubs to reserve for meetings.
"I hope it's a place where people can feel comfortable," she said. "I'd like to provide a happy experience for everyone who walks in the door."
Initially, Erickson said, the bookstore will be staffed primarily by her own family, as well as some high school students who have flexible schedules, though she's still working out those details.
Though she admitted that a small, independent bookstore like hers can't compete with nationwide providers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble when it comes to variety or prices, what she can provide is an environment where people can ask questions, browse, socialize and just talk about books with each other.
For those who like to purchase their books online, she added, there are two websites that support small, independent local booksellers like hers.
"There's something called bookshop.org , where you can buy your books online and choose a local bookseller to receive part of the sale price, then have your books delivered directly to your home," she said. "And for audio books, there's a similar site called libro.fm , where you can also choose a local bookstore to receive a portion of the profits.
"I would encourage anyone to do that, even if they don't choose to support my store," Erickson said, adding, "One thing I've learned is the world of independent booksellers is very tight-knit and wants everyone to succeed. They support each other."
Bluebird Books also has a website of its own, bluebirdbooks.store , which currently has a message on its home page saying that it's "Opening Soon!"
"I think every town should have its own bookstore," Erickson said.