Books on Broadway

Celebrate Independent Bookseller Day Saturday, April 29 with a visit to the most fun and interesting store in Williston!

Books on Broadway, downtown Williston, was started in 1993 by Robin Wilder at a time when independent booksellers were going out of business. She and Chuck met as undergraduates at NDSU and were friends for 17 years before getting married in 1991. Robin was in marketing with US West in Sioux Falls, SD but wanted to move to Williston because she enjoyed the area and the people. Not able to find a job in her field, she decided to open the book store and Williston not only took to her, but supported the business as well. "I'm amazed at how the town took to her, an outsider," Chuck said. "She was a neat, neat lady." The store was always a joint endeavor with Chuck helping out as he could while being an attorney in the States Attorneys Office.

Chuck's beloved wife Robin passed away in 2000 from a rare form of breast cancer and he continued their endeavor on his own. He loves the store and calls it his "fun stress."

Books on Broadway is truly a unique experience. "We've always tried to make it a really inviting place with unique décor and a great staff," Chuck said. "We offer an experience, we have conversations, we joke around, you can't do that online."

The store caters to all ages and tastes and adapts to changing times. Young adult reading tripled because of the Harry Potter series and the oil boom lowered the average age in Williston from 50 – 55 down to 30 – 35. Therefore Books on Broadway expanded its infant and young reader sections and offers lots more children's authors. The store has not been greatly affected by ebooks. Chuck says that they garnered about 12% of the market and have their place, especially for travel. The boom brought some challenges but Books on Broadway was excited to welcome new people every day who were amazed to find the fascinating bookstore in downtown Williston.

Books on Broadway works hard to satisfy the needs of their customers. Special orders are always welcome with most available in just five days, at no extra charge. "We can't stock every book, with 5000 to 6000 published every month, so we have a strong following for special orders, with no freight or handling fee," Chuck explained. Some out of print or rare books are also available but require freight and handling fees.

As a member of the Midwest Booksellers Association and the American Booksellers Association, Chuck has access to books, non-book items and fun conventions where issues for booksellers are discussed and ideas are shared.

Books on Broadway is the place to shop for eclectic unusual toys and gift items that are not carried anywhere else in Williston. Representatives know the store and what they want plus Chuck attends markets to find new items.

School kids get a taste of the charm of Books on Broadway as the store hosts tours to a majority of first graders in Williston, plus the third graders from St. Joseph's. Children are treated to inspirational stories and treats and every child leaves with a Beanie Baby to enjoy. There is no attempt to sell books, but just to provide a meaningful experience for the more than 400 kids who come. The store would entertain any school that wishes to come.

Dakota Soda & Coffee Company was added in 2007, featuring an awesome antique back bar, the best beans in town, and delectable treats.

Independent book stores are now growing after a low point in 2004 with the Midwest Sellers having gained 10 new stores in the last year alone. Books on Broadway has created a niche, fulfilling a need of book lovers and others in the region who want an atmosphere that is only available at Books on Broadway. Book signings are always special events with major publishers amazed that the store orders 200 copies of a book. Books on Broadway also supports Authors Row at the Sunrise Festival of the Arts each July in Sidney, bringing in regional authors with appropriate books.

Wilder truly appreciates all the support from Williston and the surrounding area. The store is a labor of love, for books and for his wife Robin.

Books on Broadway is located in downtown Williston at 12 ½ W. Broadway or call 701-572-1433. They are open Mondays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


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