My book promotion work begins… and the first stop on the journey was at Cherry Street Bookstore on Broadway in Alexandria, Minnesota. My lake home, usually referred to as the cabin, rests on the shores of Lake Irene, about 15 miles north of Alexandria. Scot and I bought the lake home with my in-laws, back in 1999. Tony and Donna lived there for almost 20 years, and then slowly we were transitioning it to Scot and me. Miltona is the post office for the area, and the big lake is Lake Miltona, at 6000 acres it is 10 times bigger than Irene. Miltona used to boast a grocery store, laundromat and lumberyard, but now is reduced to a liquor store and bar, LJ’s another bar restaurant, a beauty parlor, insurance agent, post office and welding shop. There are a few more businesses, but you get the picture. It might have been a quaint downtown at one point in history, but a tornado tore through and took the east half of town with it, so now only the west side of the street has buildings.
The hub of commerce for the area is Alexandria, Birthplace of America. It is so named because a Nordic runestone was discovered on Olof Ohman’s farm southwest of Alex in Kensington, which predated Columbus by several hundred years. Of course no one wants to have to re-write all those history books, nor do they want to change Columbus Day to Olof Day, so we have to be content with the claim but not the validation.
I love my little community here in northwest Minnesota. Alexandria has a real downtown, with 1800’s buildings on both sides of the street. It hosts thousands of summer people who come to the area to enjoy our slice of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. There’s no Costco, but there is a Mills Fleet Farm and a Menards. There’s a movie theater, lots of restaurants, antique (aka second hand) stores, area high school and Alexandria Technical College, where you can learn to be a truck driver. There’s a community theatre and old-time radio station that broadcasts on a limited basis, and a classic rock station that’s easy to listen to. I’m planning on going to the Newcomer’s Club this week to try to get to know a few more people and maybe find a group or two to socialize with.
Cherry Street Bookstore is on the main street through town, Broadway. It’s an independent book store, one of a dying breed, but it seems to thrive on it’s corner of town. The owner Kathleen Pohlig’s husband plays tennis, and that’s how I got connected with her. After my launch in Hopkins last week, I was mostly concerned that I would be sitting by myself at my table of books, since I’m a relative new-comer to the community. I have only been living at the cabin for a couple years, and then only part-time.
But my neighbors at the lake have taken me in, and one of their many acts of kindness has been inviting me along to “Monday night Buck Burgers” where they and their friends gather at Leaf Valley Mercantile to drink, visit and eat the Monday night hamburger special. They might have started out as a buck, but now the burgers run anywhere from $2-4. The company is priceless.
And it was the rallying of the Buck Burger ladies that bolstered my Cherry Street book signing. They came in one at a time, then two, and then en masse. I was so grateful for their support!
Another Lake Irene neighbor had seen a notice on our Lake NextDoor site and came, and there were three people who bought books because of Cargill connections. Years ago I was a volunteer board member for the Minnesota 4-H Foundation, and a co-trustee who lives in Alexandria showed up with his wife Lori. She heads up the area Habitat for Humanity, so I see a future on the horizon volunteering to help build houses!
I had screwed up the times on my Eventbrite page, so I ended up arriving an hour earlier than I needed to be and staying until they locked the doors. I met some new friends and welcomed old friends.
This book business ain’t so bad!