After many months without a place to purchase books in downtown Minocqua, Tracy Grigus and Michael Bauer have now brought a bookstore back to the island city.
Shortly after Book World announced its closure in 2017, Grigus and Bauer, who already own several businesses in the Minocqua area, made a move to acquire the store. Though Bauer was quiet about plans for the location when asked by The Lakeland Times in January, Grigus recently spoke to the paper about what the town's new bookstore The Shade Tree (which opened May 12) will be like and their motivations for putting one back into the community.
"We saw an opportunity to keep providing this town and surrounding towns with something they might need," she said in April. "Northern Wisconsin is a little bit more desolate, people have to travel farther than people in the city who only go a couple of blocks for things versus 10 or 15 miles to get stuff. Also, you know, there is a generation up here who don't do cell phones, maybe they don't have internet, therefore it is really hard to buy anything off of Amazon and the nearest city being Wausau is 70 plus miles away."
To differentiate from Book World and their practices as a chain, Grigus and Bauer plan to be more selective with the books they offer to consumers. According to Grigus, Book World never tailored its product to each of its locations and this will be changed up with The Shade Tree. Items tailored to the region and its demographics will be most prominent on the shelves.
"I want us to have books which are more hand-picked," Grigus said. "Everyone can order Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, but to find more obscure items, you have to do research, there is a ton out there. We want to have camping and kayaking books and remember, Northern Wisconsin is nothing like Madison. Creating a niche makes you stand out and will make people come in."
Though the pair have experience in business, this will be their first bookstore for customers of all ages. In the past, The Shade Tree had a location in Boulder Junction ran by Bauer's sister Deb Spoerke, but that store mainly sold children's books and small gifts. In spite of the new frontier, Grigus remains confident what they are doing will end up being a success.
"Really, I feel like this will be a good idea," she said. "I think we'll have something for everyone here and will try to accommodate everyone's needs."
The Shade Tree is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week
Evan J. Pretzer may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.