Above: Mark and Nancy Oakley are working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep their beloved store, Book Cottage, afloat during Coronavirus pandemic.
Story and photos by Christine MacIntyre
A delightful gem in Vandercook is a mom and pop bookstore, featuring new and used books, educational children’s toys, and vendor booths that feature unique items—some antique and/or collectible, some handmade, all treasures of sorts.
The Book Cottage took the place of Albion Motors on the corner of Francis Street and Hinckley Boulevard one year ago; the business just celebrated its seven-year anniversary.
Mark and Nancy Oakley are invested in the community as much as they are their bookstore. The couple cares about their customers and aims to extend their belief that there is value in tangible reading materials, especially during the stay-at-home orders handed down from Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
While The Book Cottage was mandated to temporarily shut its doors to the public, the husband and wife duo has been hustling behind the scenes to continue serving their customers. Their creative efforts have extended all across the county, as they are offering a delivery option in addition to curbside pickup. These efforts are an attempt to salvage the business, as they resist falling further between the cracks—a situation that arose from the current pandemic.
The Book Cottage, 4500 Francis Street, Jackson
Recent offerings include Easter baskets and “grab and go” sets—a great value for two books in your choice of genre, one bonus book, plus a bonus item. Currently, you can pick up a Mother’s Day pot—a planting pot complete with a book or two and select spring décor items. As always, customers are welcome to the wide selection of books that are the highlight of the 5,000 square foot storefront.
“Our customers have been phenomenal,” says Nancy, “It’s more work for them to buy from us right now, we know that; but, we greatly appreciate their support.”
Every penny counts, as requests for reading materials land at the Oakley’s feet. “I’ve never worked so hard for so little in my entire life,” Nancy concurred. The couple, like many small business owners, have their lives tied up into their business—their house, their cars—which is all the more reason to keep pushing and driving sales the best they can.
Customers can feel confident in the safety of the products they purchase, as the Oakley’s have taken extra precautions, adhering to the recommended safety practices, including mask and glove wearing, and wiping down surfaces and items with proper solvents to prevent the spread of germs. Even the books are wiped down prior to leaving the store.
The Book Cottage boasts cozy reading areas and a room dedicated to kids, vendor booths chock full of handmade items including art and American Girl clothing and accessories,
Book sections include Sci-Fi and fantasy, historical, thrillers, fiction, non-fiction, humor, and sections dedicated to local authors, staff and book club picks, and even beautiful, intricate book covers.
But the store isn’t just a bookstore, especially during normal times. Events are part of the fun, too, and are sure to win approval from a variety of age groups. There is something for everyone.
One of their more lavish events is the annual Harry Potter party, which lands on Saturday, August 1 this year. The event, running from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., costs just five dollars. Don’t let the low-ticket price fool you, however.
The Oakleys assure you that this event is the real deal—“We go all out; it is ridiculous.” Guests typically top 300 and come from as far as Missouri.
Other regular and recurring events include farmer and flea markets, painting classes, trivia night, book clubs, kid’s science and mining classes, and artist signings—to name a few.
The Book Cottage continues to serve their customers, as Mark, a United States Navy veteran and retired HUD home inspector, and Nancy, a former reading specialist in the education system, work to keep reading materials in otherwise idle hands.
Visit Book Cottage on Facebook to keep up with current events and offerings. Contact the Oakley’s for your book emergency needs or for questions and inquiries at (517) 768-8030 or by messaging the Facebook page here. Patrons are encouraged to stop in to the storefront at 4500 Francis Street in Jackson, once the stay-at-home order is lifted and business can resume as usual. Come see for yourself—the Book Cottage is truly a gem.
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The joy of the Lord is your strength. Neh. 8:10