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Photo by Theo Tate
Novel Idea Book Store & More will have its grand opening on Aug. 13.
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Photo by Theo Tate
The store's interior.
GRANITE CITY — This weekend, Niedringhaus Avenue is going to see a new business open its doors, turning another page in the city’s history book.
Owner Brenda Whitaker will unveil Novel Idea Book Store & More on Aug. 13, and the community will have an opportunity to indulge on candy, peruse and buy clothes and old LPs, and of course, read a book.
“It’s a little mini-mall, with little boutiques,” Whitaker said. “It’s a fun (place) for people to do a little shopping, eating, whatever.”
Located at 1400 Niedringhaus Ave., Novel Idea Book Store & More is just a one-mile drive from Whitaker’s other business, the Garden Gate Tea Room, a restaurant at 839 Niedringhaus.
Before she became an entrepreneur, Whitaker was a steelworker at National Steel. She opened the Garden Gate Tea Room in 2000, and two years later, she decided to concentrate on the restaurant full time.
Whitaker is also the executive director of Alfresco Productions, which formed in 2009.
“I’ve had my businesses for 16 years, so I always have been thinking ahead that I was going to open something else,” she said. “I just wasn’t sure what it was going to be. We’ll probably do some other things down the line. I like being my own boss and creating businesses. I love this community. After this, I probably will do something else and then, maybe something else. Who knows?”
Novel Idea Book Store & More is divided into seven sections — the Book Nook, Sweet Treats, For the Record, Youtopia, Wee-SALE, Daisy’s and the Story Room.
When customers first walk into the shop, they’ll see Sweet Treats, where retro and homemade candies, sodas, ice cream, cookies and cupcakes are sold.
In the back of Sweet Treats is Youtopia, a small area where purses, T-shirts, jewelry and shoes are sold.
The Story Room is a children’s reading room that includes wall paintings designed by Denny Winn, a local tattoo artist.
In the Book Nook, people can browse through a selection of used books, sit down and eat and have a conversation with friends.
“I bought (the books) from the owners who were here,” Whitaker said. “I bought their inventory. It was called BSR Books and they were here for a few years and then they moved out of the area.”
Wee-SALE is a children’s boutique area with clothing and décor from newborn to 24 months. Daisy’s, which is named after Whitaker’s dog, is a pet boutique shop. For The Record has a large collection of vinyl records.
Whitaker said she hopes the new business will be successful.
“I don’t know what the clientele would have been if it was only books, only candy or only clothing,” she said. “If you have (some) of several different things, there will hopefully be a draw.
“It’s not like any other place downtown. I’m not trying to copy the Tea Room or Aiello’s Pizzeria.”
Novel Idea Book Store & More is part of a revitalized downtown Granite City area that includes Aiello’s Pizzeria, the Granite City Cinema and Kool Beanz Café.
“I think there are a lot of people who are boosting Granite City,” Whitaker said. “I’ve been at it for a while. With the Tea Room and the arts center and this, it’s just a small part. But you have everybody playing parts like Jerry’s (Cafeteria), which has been here for years, and Petri’s Café.”
The shop is open 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For information, call (618) 709-7779 or visit novelideabookstoreandmore.com.