Everyone knows the independent bookstore. It’s probably where many of us got our first real taste of the genre. For people interested in science fiction, fantasy, comic books and art, it represents a place of uniqueness in a world of homogeneity. It’s what bookstores used to be, before they were all gobbled up by chains: a community institution where fans of alternative fiction can catch up on the newest titles, socialize and share their love of whatever genre holds their interest. It’s the sort of place that fosters creativity and can serve as a cornerstone to a local artistic community.
We all know the independent bookstore, but we seldom have the privilege to see it as it develops, beginning first as a business venture by some brave entrepreneur, and then growing into something truly inspiring. But at this very moment, just such a thing is happening right before our very eyes. In the state of Michigan, the Off the Beaten Path Bookstore and Café has just been opened by the charming and dedicated Salathiel Palland. In addition to being a bookstore, Off the Beaten Path is a hangout, art gallery and social space. Its shelf space is dedicated to sci-fi, fantasy, horror, romance, comics and graphic novels, steampunk, and a host of other wonderful alternative genres.
Right now Michigan is in the grips of a severe economic depression, and in this environment it is easy for people to become frustrated and fall into despair, making the situation all the worse. A creative space like Off the Beaten Path offers a chance to help revitalize its area by offering the artistic and literary community a place to come together and share ideas. And to help foster this creative spirit, the bookstore is to be decorated in a steampunk theme to further emphasize its blending of literature and art.
Although technically open at the moment, Off the Beaten Path’s official grand opening will be taking place on November 27th. I for one wish Salathiel the best of luck in helping to bring hope and inspiration to her part of Michigan.
If you’re as intrigued by this bookstore as I am, check out their website (linked above) and their Facebook page, and if you’re in the area be sure to swing by and give Off the Beaten Path a look. I did, and I enjoyed every minute of it.