PUBLISHED: Wednesday, December 26, 2007, The Voice News

MC entrepreneurs ask for community support
Book Blues owners urge, 'shop local'

by Jeri Packer
Voice staff writer

Jacqueline and Todd Wilson, owners of The Book Blues Bookstore in Marine City aren't shy about expressing their passion to keep their local family-owned business alive.
"In the movie, You've Got Mail, Meg Ryan starts a 'Save the Shop Around the Corner' campaign when the viability of her independent children's bookstore is threatened by a big box chain store moving in across the street," Jackie Wilson stated in a recent press release.

Now, she insists, it's their turn to fight.

The couple swallowed their pride and recently wrote a letter to the community they have grown to love, letting them know that their store was in danger of closing.

"It was a tough decision, but basically we decided to let our customers and the community know what was going on," Wilson said. "We felt that if the community really wanted us to stay, then we should give them the chance to exhibit that. We especially owe it to the loyal customers."
Wilson said the customer response was overwhelming, but they are being "cautiously optimistic" about the current support being enough to carry them through the coming months after all the publicity dies down.

The Wilson's moved from the Washington D.C. area to open The Book Blues in downtown Marine City in June 2006. The store is on the corner of Water and Broadway streets, two of the main arteries into the downtown area. Jackie Wilson is also a writing consultant and published author. In addition, she runs an online women's tee shirt boutique called Explosive Kiss T-shirts at
"All the merchandise is kiss-based," she said. "They all have lips on them in some creative way."

Wilson said The Book Blues is not just your average, run-of-the-mill bookstore.

"We're a pretty unique used bookstore," she explained. "The majority of our books are used, but they are of a quality superior to other used bookstores."

She explained that the store is set up to look and feel like a bookstore that sells all-new books.
"People come in and ask where's your used books?' she said. "That's how good they look."
The store carries a limited amount of new book releases, but they will order new books at a 15 percent discount to the customer, with no shipping costs added.

In the year-and-a-half they have owned the store, the local entrepreneurs have become known for their community involvement by sponsoring classes and organizing local events.

They organize community events like the recent Trick or Treat Trail that brought more than 300 people to local businesses in Marine City, said Wilson.

The couple also makes it a point to bring in local authors to the store, such as Roger LeLievre, author of "Know Your Ships," and New Baltimore Officer Tim Lindstrom, author of "The Adventures of Cubby."
They also consider "cross-promotion" to be a strong focal point for their store and encourage their patrons to also shop at other local businesses in town.

"We've been one of the strongest business supporters in the area," Wilson said.

What can the community do to show their support?

"Buy your dog food at the local pet store. Get your books at the local bookstore," Wilson said.
"Independent businesses can turn around quickly. It's only been in the last three months that we've had any trouble. It's easier to shop at a one-stop big-box store and it may be cheaper and more convenient, but if you like to live in a small community, you have to shop in the community. If you don't shop at our stores regularly - and not just every few months - we're going to be gone."

Wilson added that much of the real character of a historical community derives from the independent, private-owned stores lining the streets.

Christine Kadey is a regular customer at the corner bookstore and said she would miss patronizing the "delightful" shop, situated across from the St. Clair River, should they be forced to close. She believes the family-owned businesses are part of what makes Marine City the town that it is.

"I have a real heart for Marine City and I want to see it prosper," she said. "I try to shop Marine City first always. It's like being patriotic."

Judy White, President of the Marine City Chamber of Commerce, works with local businesses, providing support and education to local business-owners.

"Speaking as a dyed-in-the-wool 'bibliophile', any hint of a bookstore closing is cause for alarm," she said. "Recent economic news shows sales better than expected in November so hopefully that trend will continue and boost business for Book Blues and all retail in Marine City."

Whatever the future economic trends, the Wilson's will have to decide quickly whether they will continue to work and serve in Marine City. Their lease, with a one-month extension, expires the end of January. And with their first baby due in March, these "mom and pop storeowners" will be making some major family decisions soon.


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