Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to open Dotters Books.
DB: Books have always been my favorite thing, and since I was very small I’ve wanted to own a bookshop. Part of the reason my husband and I moved to Eau Claire was because there was no independent bookshop. After the birth of my daughter, I was looking to get involved so I joined a local book club started by Elizabeth de Cleyre (one of our co-founders). After our first meeting, myself, Jill Heinke Moen (our co-owner) and Elizabeth started talking and I mentioned that I always wanted to open a bookshop. A week later, we were talking through ways to make that happen. We operated as a popup shop for a little over a year, setting up at various local businesses around town. Then, after we found the perfect space, we decided to open a brick and mortar in late September 2018.
What kind of reading trends do you see with your customers?
DB: In 2017, when we started Dotters Books, we determined that one of the most important parts of our shop would be stocking books by women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) authors. We felt that amplifying these voices would signal to publishers that book lovers value traditionally marginalized perspectives. We want every single person to walk into our shop and see themselves somewhere on our shelves – from children’s books to fiction to nonfiction and everything in between. With that as our ethos, we found that customers responded really well to the books on our shelves.
What do you like the most about owning and working in an indie bookstore?
DB: Most everything! I love books and I love to help others find a book that fits their needs. Whether they’re looking for escape, education, challenge, a wonderful story, it’s a privilege to put a book into their hands that they’re excited about. Then, when they come back into the shop, I love to hear their thoughts on the book. It’s such a special way to get to know people; to listen and learn from people with different experiences and ideas about the world. I’m so thankful for the book community in the Chippewa Valley.
What do you think the future of indie bookstores will look like?
DB: I would imagine that lots of shops have had to make huge modifications to their businesses in order to sell books online during the pandemic. I think this is a positive step forward as there are many in our community who need that accessibility. This pandemic has highlighted the importance of recognizing difference and responding in a way that all are included. If that means that events continue to run both virtually and in-person so that more people can be reached, I’m all for it. Our shop has been able to sponsor large virtual events in our community that would not have been able to happen in real life as a result of budgets and travel. I’m sure we’ve all watched events all over the country with wonderful authors – leading to even more connection in the book community. I think this is the future. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic, but I hope we come through this time with the feeling that we’re more connected than ever.
What is the importance of keeping indie bookstores thriving?
DB: Independent bookstores are irreplaceable. Yes, we’ve all modified our businesses in order to survive through a pandemic, but when things are able to open safely again, I have no doubt that people will be flocking to places of community – locally owned restaurants, record stores, boutiques, bookshops – coming together with the people who’ve continued to connect despite the distance. Shopping for books online is convenient and currently necessary, but real life community and connection cannot be replaced by an algorithm.
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Article originally Published in the April / May 2021 Issue: Cover Stories.