As a book lover, some places draw me like a magnet. After hearing about a recent acquisition of 18 some boxes of books – a library of needlework, artisans, trades and skills related to fiber, art, textiles and more at the Book Barn in Niantic, Connecticut, curiosity about such a collection led to a recent visit.
Deborah Aultman, an art teacher who works at the Book Barn Midtown (one of three locations of the store) helped unpack, sort and shelve the treasure trove of source material, inspiration and patterns. Titles range from internationally-known designer Kaffe Fassett’s early work in quilts to Indian basket making, gardens in embroidery, and animal needlework.
The Midtown branch is stroller- and wheelchair-friendly on one level with wide aisles. Along with arts, crafts, cozy mysteries and antiques is a great selection of children’s books and picture books.
“Craft: An art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill, especially manual skill. Skill in doing or making something, as in the arts.”
Don’t miss the nostalgia of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and other vintage editions. Bargain beach reads, some mysteries and fat paperbacks will lure readers for $1. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. except Thanksgiving and Christmas. The downtown store at 291 Main St., just a short walk away, holds transportation titles plus science fiction, cookbooks and more.
The coffee and cookies offered at no charge (and the residents cats and critters at the downtown and main barn) are part of the charm. The staff at the main barn (only) also buy books if the monthly budget allows, so call ahead – or will take selections in trade for store credit, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting.
The original “Main Barn” is a three-story weathered structure at 41 Main St., reachable by a short drive west from both midtown and the downtown shops. This is the place to find “Ellis Island” – where new acquisitions await sorting – along with The Haunted Bookshop and The Last Page. An online guide to all the buildings and categories they contain can be found online to help plan a visit.
The business is owned by Randi and Maureen White and has been growing since opening in April 1988. License plates seen on a recent visit included Ontario, New Jersey and Rhode Island among a flock of Connecticut vehicles.
Visitors searching for a specific title of category need but to ask – everyone I’ve ever met at The Book Barn is friendly and knowledgeable. (They also will leave an fellow “bookie” alone to happily get lost in the stacks.)
For the online guide, see www.bookbarnniantic.com.