Wednesday April 17, 2013

Fun to Flow at riverís end bookstore in Port City

Downtown business observing 15th anniversary
By Jacob Pucci

    The water never ends in the Port City, and neither does river's end bookstore.

    Area residents are encouraged to come celebrate with local authors during the 15th anniversary of the river’s end bookstore in Oswego on May 15.

    During the special celebration, 15 local writers will appear at the store where guests can enjoy the local talent and partake in cake baked by Bob Bateman from Cakes Galore & More in Oswego.

    “We’ve never done something like this in the past. It will be a day-long celebration,” said Bill Reilly, who along with his wife Mindy Ostrow, opened the store in 1998 and quickly found its place in the community. The business is located at West First and Bridge streets in Oswego.

    “Our focus has always been on community and on being the community bookstore,” Reilly said. “We’ve never lost sight of that.”

    Along with many book options—a selection that Reilly says has grown drastically since the store first opened—the store offers book suggestions and personalized service as well.

    “There’s an opportunity for them [the customer] to find new things in the store,” Reilly said.

    Guiding the customers along the way is a staff invested in the books the store sells. Reilly said the store’s competitive advantage lies in the attention paid to each customer and personal book recommendations given by staff members. He said the staff’s passion for a particular author or subject matter sets the river’s end apart from other stores, especially large book retailers.

    “You’re not going to get that there,” Reilly said, referring to larger stores and online marketplaces.

    Though Reilly said the store has expanded its offerings and services in the 15 years of operation, the size of the store has remained the same. While larger bookstores, many times with more than 30,000 square feet of floor space, have struggled, the river’s end and its 2,500 square feet are thriving.

    “I just don’t think that footprint is viable today, but I think the footprint the size of river’s end is perfect,” he noted.

    Local talent featured

    This footprint has played host to many local writers, including Lisa M. Buske, a New Haven resident whose recent book “Where’s Heidi?” brought more than 200 people to the store recently.

    River’s end recently hosted local writer Jim Farfaglia, who also serves as the resident “writing professor” of the store. He presented a reading from his latest book. Reilly said the store’s events that focus on local writers are the most popular.

    “We love shining a bright light on the local talent and there is so much talent in Oswego,” he said.

    The store also featured a sleep problem seminar, as well as a book signing and discussion from Rich Finzer, whose book “Maple on Tap” details the ins-and-outs of the maple syrup production process.
    While the store has expanded its merchandise to include e-books, notebooks, stationery and even literary-themed children’s apparel, Reilly said he does not want to lose the allure of the community bookstore.

    “I feel like it’s not really our store. It’s the community’s store,” he said.