St. Paul native buys Garrison Keillor's bookstore, gives it new name

Common Good Books is becoming Next Chapter Booksellers.
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The bookstore opened by Garrison Keillor 13 years ago has been sold to a St. Paul native, who has announced a new name.

Common Good Books at 38 Snelling Avenue is becoming Next Chapter Booksellers, after it was bought from Keillor by long-time customer Nick Ballas.

The former "A Prairie Home Companion" host launched Common Good Books initially at the Blair Arcade on Selby Avenue in 2006, before moving to bigger premises on Snelling in 2012.

Earlier this year, Keillor signaled he would be selling the bookstore as he was "leaving town" to focus on writing his own book and a musical, though the Pioneer Press reports the store had seen declining sales after MPR severed ties with Keillor in the wake of allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

Step forward Ballas, who is giving the store a fresh start with a new name, logo and paint-job pending.

"I know firsthand what an independent bookstore means to a city, and when the opportunity to support this one came along, I jumped at the chance," Ballas wrote on the store's website.

"The store is filled with wonderful books and booksellers dedicated to helping customers find just what they’re looking for. We have something special, and I’m so happy to be able to keep this store here for St Paul readers."

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Despite his talk of "leaving town," Keillor hasn't gone very far. While he put his Summit Avenue mansion on the market, the Star Tribune notes that he and his wife have downsized to a two-bedroom apartment across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

Ballas meanwhile believes that independent bookstores are experiencing somewhat of a resurgence, as consumers desire an in-person experience when shopping for books.

He told MPR News that the new name signifies "a new chapter in the history of the store," allowing its staff to "really focus on the future."

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