In an age of technology and digital communication, people accustomed to the printed word must adapt quickly in order to survive. This September, Schuler Books celebrates 30 years of business – a true testament of the flexibility of the bookstore to change along with the times. At a time when bookstores are going out of business (the most notable being the bookstore chain, Borders, closing their last stores almost one year ago), Schuler is using this month to celebrate the store’s success with its Grand Rapids and Lansing-area communities.
When Bill and Cecile Fehsenfeld opened the first Schuler Books in 1982 at the 28th Street location in Grand Rapids, they were printed-book purists: they carried a huge selection of titles, but only in print form. Over the past 30 years, the store’s five locations have grown and adapted to offer both new and used printed books, e-books, greeting cards, music, movies, a gift section and fresh-made food in the Chapbook Cafe. Schulers has also launched its own in-house editing and publishing service, the Chapbook Press, allowing independent authors to self-publish and sell copies in-store and online.
“Because the bookstore is local and independent, we have the ability to adapt to the changing market quickly to meet the needs of the readers in our area, and our community, in turn has continued to support us,” said Emily Stavrou-Schaefer, promotions coordinator at Schuler Books.
One thing that the store has continued to uphold over the years is its commitment to providing quality and personable service to the community. In the process of hiring employees, the store utilizes a test that measures the candidate’s knowledge of literature--in an attempt to hire individuals that have a love and deep passion for the books they sell. But the employees at Schuler’s are not merely book smart; they have a history of creating personal relationships with customers, often knowing regular by name--a business philosophy that is not always the focus at a large chain.
To celebrate 30 years of success as Michigan’s largest independent bookstore, Schuler Books is hosting a whole spread of events during the month of September, featuring a number of Michigan-based authors and musicians, kids events, giveaways and more. Possibly the biggest event for Schuler this month is best-selling author Mitch Albom. He is scheduled to appear at the 28th Street location on Sept. 12.
Additional September Events:
Sept. 12: Book signing with Mitch Albom for his new book, The Time Keeper
Sept. 13: Poetry Night featuring Jack Ridl & Grand Rapids Poet Laureate David Cope.
Sept. 13: Author talk and Book signing with Lorilee Craker for her new book, My Journey to Heaven: What I Saw and How It Changed My Life.
Sept. 18: Author talks and book signings with Calvin College Professors Dr. Gary Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney for their new book, Acceptable Words: Prayers for the Writer and Lure: Still More Stories of Families, Fishing & Faith by Dr. Vande Kopple.
Sept. 20: Author talk and book signing with Tobin Buhk for his new book True Crime in the Civil War.
Sept. 21: Live music: Acoustic set featuring Rick Chyme and Ryan Wilson
Sept. 21: Live music with Jazz singer/songwriter, Ashley Daneman
Sept. 22: Book signing with author Bryan Berghoef for his new book, Pub Theology: Beer, Conversation, and God.
Sept. 28: Live music in the studio with Potato Moon
Sept. 28: Live music in the studio with Joe Reilly
Sept. 29: Live music in the studio with Graham Parsons and the Go Rounds.
For more information and a full list of all celebratory events, visit schulerbooks.com.
Pictured: Jonathan Franzen is one of the many authors that have stopped by Schuler Books over the past 30 years.