Dotters Books | 307 S. Barstow St | www.dottersbooks.com | Facebook & Instagram: @dottersbooks
The last few months have brought new opportunities to pursue your book learnin’ in Downtown Eau Claire with the major renovation and re-opening of the L.E. Phillips Library last September; and now this week with the relocation and re-opening of the city’s only independent bookstore, Dotters Books.
We stopped in at 307 S. Barstow St. before Dotters’ Grand Opening on 4/29 to chat with owner Margaret Leonard. We discussed the “long but exciting” journey from Hogeboom Ave. to South Barstow, the importance of independent bookstores, and what the future holds for Dotters in their new home.
First things first, the remodel of the building, front to back, top to bottom, is impressive! Dotters has given some desperately-needed love to the historic Press Building, and they’ve brightened up the block in the process. Somewhat serendipitously, since opening in 1870, a little more than half of the building’s existence (80 years to be exact) has been as home to printing companies that churned out material for area readers. Publications produced in the building included Northern Wisconsin’s largest-circulation German language newspaper and the Norwegian-language novels of Waldemar Ager. Most recently, the building was home to Pedals Plus Music.
Dotters Books now carries the literary torch for 307 S. Barstow. They’ve created a welcoming place that is giving seriously cozy, turn-off-your-phone, curl-up-with-a-book vibes. The larger new location will allow the bookstore to bring back in-store events that dropped off with the advent of the COVID pandemic. First to return are book club meetings and youth story times with plans to explore other event possibilities in the future.
Dotters originally opened in 2018 in a small retail space in the East Hill on Hogeboom Ave. They’ve been growing a loyal customer base through a focus on building community and sharing books that tell stories of varied experiences and points of view. A key component of their selection is a wide variety of books by authors from marginalized communities.
“Everyone likes to hear and tell stories,” says Margaret. “We want this to be a place where people can find themselves represented in the stories we share. We hope it’s also a place where those who identify with similar stories can connect with each other.”
The communal experience that books create is where Dotters and other independent booksellers shine. It’s no coincidence that the Dotter’s Grand (re) Opening is on April 29, National Independent Bookstore Day. They’re rightfully proud of their independent status.
“Bookstores like ours are challenged by big retailers like Amazon,” says Margaret. “We can’t always compete on price, but independent bookstores are community connectors, where people can come together over their love of stories. Plus when you shop at a store like Dotters, you’re supporting a local, small business. Your dollars stay in your community.”
If you get your kicks from clicks, have no fear, you can still order online from Dotters. All of their available inventory can be ordered via their website for pickup or delivery. Can’t find what you’re looking for? They’ll special order it for you.
Help welcome Dotters to the neighborhood at their Grand Opening on Saturday, April 29 at 10 AM, or give them a look during regular business hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm.