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.
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.
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.”
Show Some Love
You can support Novel Bay through direct purchases, shopping its current inventory at NovelBayBooks.com and getting backlist (older) titles at bookshop.org/shop/novelbaybooks. 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.