A bit of sad news from Appleton, that really doesn't matter in the grand scheme, unless you are in or from there. But, this is a story that has happened many times before in every city in America, so most everyone can relate at least a little. Conkey's Bookstore, which has been open in downtown Appleton for 113 years, is about to close. It was beat out by Barnes & Noble....this is quantifiable in this case, as B&N offered a lower-priced contract to be the bookstore for students at Fox Valley Technical College. This represented half of Conkey's business. It's hard to make up a drop like that.
I remember going into Conkey's as a kid and buying Choose Your Own Adventure books. Any child of the 80s knows those books. Other times, there were books I wanted to buy that I couldn't afford. But, there were always a lot of interesting books there, many of which were hard to find elsewhere in Appleton. The last book I bought from there was a book on new urbanism by former Milwaukee mayor John Norquist. This was in 1998, not long before I moved back to Minneapolis. Can't say I agreed with everything in that book, but books like that are why I browsed Conkey's somewhat regularly.
I am not generally one to lament the loss of local businesses to national chains. In our economic world, if someone can sell the same product at a better price, they are going to get business. I know that lamenting local stores closing is a cause celebre for some people, specifically when it comes to Wal-Mart. I am not with these people, and this is not why I am posting about this. But, that doesn't mean losing an institution (and Conkey's was an institution) doesn't sting at least a little. Conkey's was a great bookstore for a city like Appleton, and Appleton is a little less cool for losing Conkey's. I am not aware of another quality independent bookstore in Appleton. Perhaps I have one more book purchase in me over on 226 E College Ave.