For nearly four decades, the bookworms of Grand Rapids, Minnesota got their fix at The Village Bookstore, a community icon that might have disappeared if it wasn't for the Central Square Mall.
The owner, 74-year-old Mike McGinnis, ran the bookstore since 1980, but earlier this year decided to end the management chapter of his life and retire, while downsizing the bookstore outside of the mall, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
But The Central Square Mall, which has housed the 3,000-square-foot bookstore since 1984, wasn't going to let it the cozy establishment wave goodbye that easy.
"When Mike wanted to retire we just didn't want him to leave," Jean Healy, manager of the mall, told BringMeTheNews. "Then the question came up of 'Can we buy it?' So we did."
Healy describes the bookstore as "a thriving small town bookstore that people can totally relate too." She said she will work to continue the businesses practices of the previous owner, such as special ordering books, to maintain the community relationships formed over the years.
Additionally, the store was one of the mall's first clients when it opened in 1984, and steadily draws customers in.
Bookstore fills a void in the area
Healy also emphasized that the bookstore wasn't just a local favorite, but a traditional pit stop for tourists making their way north.
"People are thrilled we're keeping it open," Healy said. "Tourists are still coming in and saying how glad they are we're still here."
For years, The Village Bookstore has filled a void in the area for people wanting to peruse shelves of books, as most other bookstores in nearby cities have closed in the face of online competition from retail giants such as Amazon.
McGinnis, who has run the store for so many years along with his daughters, told MPR he is still retiring but is happy to leave it with the mall.
He was planning on downsizing, but now that the mall owns the store, it is looking to expand into an additional 1,900 square feet. Books will remain the focus, but Healy is hoping to bring in more customers and revenue by adding an assortment of products to sell with the books, such as cookware with recipe books.
"There are gift stores with books, but this will be a bookstore with gifts," Healy told BringMeTheNews. "Our main priority will stay the same - we want people to read and want to keep that educational value, especially for the kids."
The bookstore is reminding open during the transitional period, but will now be known as The Village Bookstore & Gifts.