We parked our car on the outskirts of the Ashland downtown core, and started walking.
We popped into a coop art gallery, which happened to be clerked by the artist who's art we noticed the most-- who had done some funky cow and cat pictures. I wanted to buy one, but just before that, I'd purchased an orange citron necklace and earrings for Linda (her Valentine's Day gift.) So we picked out a magnet with one of her skinny cows on it, instead.
Had a nice discussion comparing downtowns.
Next place we hit was Bloomsbury Books. Nice place, nice selection. Clerk informed us that they were the only "real" new bookstore in town, and I'd have to say after wandering around the rest of the day, that I agree with her.
Which begs the question; how does Medford/Ashland rate #3 in the country for bookstores unless they are including used bookstores -- or they were including any store that was listed as carrying new books, of which there were four or five, but none of them really carried significant amounts.
These surveys probably are pretty superficial.
I will say, however, that Ashland has a plethora of used bookstores. Got to be one of the most per capita in the country. We found 5 just wandering around, and another in Talent, and I know there were more we didn't find, not even counting Medford which we never got to.
We went upstairs in Bloomsbury and had brunch in their coffee bar.
When we drove through the downtown the night before, I commented that I thought it looked more posh and upscale than Bend, but in walking around, I changed my mind. It had a more funky feel than downtown Bend, which I liked. Maybe a bit counter-culture; not as many high end restaurants, clothing stores, galleries or jewelry stores.
We next popped into a record store, called the Coop, where the guy informed me he'd been in business for 37 years....later, it turned out that he started down in Cal, then moved to Ashland in the last decade, and had only been in the downtown location for a month or so.
It was most eclectic selection of music Ive ever seen; lots of jazz and blues and vintage music -- he was playings 50's blues when we walked in.
I asked him what the "Best" independent rock CD that was out there, and he recommended the Decemberists. "Sold," I said. While picking it up, I saw the latest Cake CD (a group I only knew about because one of my guys had brought some of their music to the store), and I grabbed that, too. The owner saw he had a live one on the hook and he recommended Iron and Wind, which I also bought. (I mentioned, haven't I, that I liked to take the clerk recommendations if I think they know what they're doing...)
He warmed up to me after that, and we chatted about business. He knew about Ranch Records and asked me about their layout but I couldn't tell him (I send one of my guys down there usually when I want to buy something...)
This is how I buy music, sporadically, but in bunches.
One of the main goals of the trip was to visit More Fun, which is owned by Scott who I talk to fairly regularly on the phone. He was one of my inspirations to carry independent comics and to up my selection of graphic novels, in that I figured he was in a small tourist town and was succeeding, so maybe I could too.
He has a more funky counter cultural independent feel than my store. I've often wondered if I'm making a mistake trying so hard to "mainstream" my store, especially since I seemed unable to convince any locals I'm mainstream at all. My theory is that I'm getting regular folk off the street and I need to make my store appealing to them, but maybe I should just let my freak flag fly.
We spent an hour or so comparing notes, and Linda wandered off the visit some of the nearby gift shops. I tracked her down, and we continued our hunt for bookstores.
Part 3 soon.
3 days ago