by Jim Boyle
Sheri Olson opened Reading Frenzy Bookstore with the hope of reaching out to the Zimmerman community and all points north.
She has done that.
An unexpected surprise, however, was the significant number of people from Elk River willing to head north for books, author readings and other special programming that has made the independent bookstore successful in its first 2.5 years of existence.
Olsen will now try to work some of her magic in downtown Elk River with Wednesday’s opening of Reading Frenzy Corner, a smaller facsimile of her bookstore at 12530 Fremont Ave.
There will be fewer books in stock and customers will search more independently for their selections. Readers will still, however, be able to advance special orders.
The store will carry a lot of art books and put special emphasis on local and regional books as well as kids books. There will always be a hodgepodge of hand-picked books, too, to meet the needs of customers.
She won’t try to compete with the Walmarts and Targets of the world. What Olsen is banking on is that her best customers come for more than just books. So is the Elk River Area Arts Alliance who is looking to make a go of more expensive real estate in what they view as a premiere location at the entrance to downtown Elk River.
Reading Frenzy Corner is nestled in the inside the Arts Alliance at 609 Main St. She will be surrounded by gallery space and will pay special attention to the needs of her visitors.
Olsen, whose background is in event planning, is expected to bring fresh excitement to downtown. It started last night with New York Times author William Kent Krueger and his newest work of fiction, “Ordinary Grace,” with a ticketed event that started with dinner in the community room of Granite Shores. Reading Frenzy had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of the new novel.
The event is a precursor to the grand opening 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 20.
After a dedication at 1 p.m. for the book shop, she will introduce Scandinavian expert Eric Dregni, who authored “In Cod We Trust” and “Vikings in the Attic.” He will present and autograph his books.
To gear up, she has prepped her store with items fitting of the Arts Alliance’s American Swedish Institute’s exhibit.
The Arts Alliance will present an exhibit in its gallery space by the institute that will pull the event together.
Olson has big plans this summer for picnics in the 3,000-square-foot patio outside the Elk River Arts Alliance and Reading Frenzy Book Corner. McCoys Pub will cater these “town picnics and author grillings,” and the event will feature concerts in the Rivers Edge Common Park in the heart of downtown Elk River.
“I’ll be combining my efforts with what’s already going on and what will be going on to provide a (complementary) match,” she said. “I think we can help each other. It’s a win-win for the Arts Alliance and us. We hope to bring people through their doors.”