Indie Bookstore Tour: Cultivating Community at Novel Bay Booksellers

Grace Johnson is visiting local booksellers, chronicling her experiences and sharing a little about each store.

Year Opened: 2018
Location: 44 N. 3rd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay
Owners: Liz Welter and John Maggitti

Walking down 3rd Avenue, the first thing that catches the eye about Novel Bay Booksellers is its A-frame chalkboard outside. Usually displaying funny and witty book messages, it’s a beacon for all book lovers. Before going in, check out the window displays, which offer a preview of what’s inside.

One reason I really like Novel Bay is because the interior feels like a home library. The light floors; dark, wood-paneled walls; and well-placed carpets create a cozy environment that I envision for my own home library one day. A few armchairs offer spots to sit and relax, or to wait while a friend takes too long shopping the shelves.

I’m typically not looking for anything in particular when I’m shopping at indie booksellers, so I pay close attention to the shelf talkers – the little notes on bookshelves that indicate the booksellers’ recommended reads – and Novel Bay uses them a lot. 

The kids’ corner in the back is a great place to settle down and read a book or two – or three – with your young reader.

The Beginning

When Book World closed all of its stores in 2017, Door County lost two bookstores. But Maggitti and Welter saw it as an opportunity to create a community centered around books and build something together. Since its opening, Novel Bay has felt a lot of support from the community, allowing it to expand its children’s offerings and bring in two part-time booksellers, K.D. Wells and Karlie Martens.

Store Specialities

Novel Bay focuses on new-release fiction titles and quality children’s books. The expanded children’s section includes titles for new readers and a growing selection of middle-grade reads.

When Welter and Maggitti said they wanted to create a bookish community in their store, they weren’t kidding: Patrons’ suggestions drive about a third of the book selection. 

Bookstores and the Community

“They are the gathering places – places to meet and get to know more like-minded people – and they provide a way to detox from our device-centric lives,” the duo wrote. “Its essence is the soul of the town. The bookstore belongs to the community; we’re there to turn on the lights.”

Photo by Grace Johnson

Show Some Love

You can support Novel Bay through direct purchases, shopping its current inventory at and getting backlist (older) titles at Engaging with the store on social media is also helpful, as is recommending Novel Bay to friends and family members. The owners also recommend supporting their neighboring businesses because a thriving business environment helps them as well.

What I Bought

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix and The Hobbit graphic novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, adapted by Charles Dixon.

Related Organizations