One morning on my day off, I was wandering down Kinnickinnic Avenue just after grabbing a cup of coffee from Stone Creek. I figured I would check to see if there was anything new on the main street when I stumbled across Voyageur Book Shop, a hidden little book store at the end of the block with an impressive collection. I thought that surely I must have walked by this place a thousand times, but after walking in and talking to co-owner Blaine Wesselowski, I learned that he and Jeremy Mericle just opened the shop in spring of 2016.
Blaine and Jeremy met while working at Renaissance Book Shop a few years back. Once the shop closed, they bought a large collection of the books and art (now hanging on Voyageur’s walls) in order to open their own place. Blaine, originally from Kansas and Jeremy, originally from Wisconsin are a perfect match for going into business together. They both have a love for rare books and a knack for finding unique copies.
So how does one acquire books to fill a small book store? Well, you have to do your homework. Blaine explains that it’s about knowing the right type of places like certain estate sales or specific library sales. “Often you get referrals from people that have a library they want to sell out of” and those can be gold mines. But there’s more to it than simply finding the books, you also have to know your customer base and carry the books that people will buy. Popular authors like Edgar Allen Poe always sell out. “The earlier in life people experience the author, the more broadly known they are,” says Blaine.
You might be wondering what book shop owners Blaine and Jeremy are currently reading so lucky enough, I thought to ask. Jeremy is deep into The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God by George Bernard Shaw while Blaine just finished a biography of Lewis Carroll and has now moved onto Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. And yes, conversations with these two are as unique as their book choices. So take a stroll over Voyageur and venture through the boundless collection of stories.