There’s a bookselling success story developing in Excelsior, Minnesota. The beloved community bookstore, Excelsior Bay Books, has been in the hands of the same owners for the past 23 years. Owners Anne Nye and Ellie Temple have been looking for a buyer for about four months.
As it turns out, the buyer was with them all along. Long-time staff member Ann Woodbeck is purchasing the store as of January 1, 2020. After some updating to modernize and personalize the store, a grand re-opening is planned.
Woodbeck joined a small staff of three part-time booksellers at Excelsior Bay in 2006 and discovered how much she loved bookselling. Sometime last year, she decided to take a break from the store, “retired,” and committed herself to her own writing projects.
She entertained a daydream of herself as the new owner, but it wasn’t until her husband, Dale Woodbeck chimed in over the dinner table that the plan came together. “Dale said he never saw me happier than when I was selling books” and offered to be my partner, Ann recounts. On the front end, Ann’s book industry knowledge and relationships will ensure the store’s healthy future, while Dale’s experience running various small businesses will build a strong operational foundation.
Under Ann’s guidance, the store will retain its wonderful cozy charm, while also gaining a more contemporary business edge. “My tastes are more modern,” Ann says. She is looking forward to establishing a point-of-sale system, learning the ropes of frontlist buying, and connecting to publishers and reps across the industry.
Excelsior Bay Books was born out of a friendship between Nye and Temple, who met at Excelsior’s former bookstore, Frog Island Books. When Frog Island closed, Nye and Temple wanted to keep a bookstore in their small town and opened Excelsior Bay Books in 1996--and it has remained in the same location all these years.
Nye is fulfilling her dream of moving to the Southwest, while Temple will remain on the staff as a bookseller, along with all of the current staff members.
The store is a beloved community resource for book clubs, Literature Lovers’ Night Out, Storytime Trolley (in partnership with local history museum), and a multitude of author events.
Ann Woodbeck says, “Owning this store is a chance to be a part of a thriving and friendly town and spend time with books and people who love and read them. I want to be an active supporter of the world of literature and the writers who create stories that help us make sense of the world.”
You can reach Ann Woodbeck at firstname.lastname@example.org.