By Janet Stoica
Back in 1995 when Debra Horan decided to open a book shop in Webster, she never imagined it would flourish so beautifully. Many local book hunters and avid readers have found Booklovers’ Gourmet to be a paradise in the small town of Webster and frequently patronize this wonderful emporium filled with more than just books.
As the holidays will soon be upon us, unusual and charming gifts can be found that will delight not only the giver but the recipient. Ms. Horan seems to have a unique talent for knowing what her customers would love to see and buy. From her fresh-brewed lattes and specialty drinks to unusual and distinctive greeting cards to jewelry and beautiful calendars, there truly is something for everyone in this eclectic shop.
“Once customers enter the store, whether they’re first-timers or regulars, they always seem to find something else of interest and will take a chair and sit for a while, enjoying the atmosphere and various interesting items,” said Ms. Horan.
Her store is breathtaking for its size. The nooks and crannies and small rooms hold surprises and gifts that are sure to bring big smiles to her customers. The walls are filled with décor that includes inspirational signs and magnets for animal lovers, displays of attractive and locally-made jewelry such as pendants and bracelets, scarves, sage bundles for energy cleansing, aura gifts, incense, book novelties, coffee mugs, pottery, candies, homemade fudge and delightfully-flavored caramels like sea salt, vanilla, ginger, and chocolate complete with their gift boxes.
If it’s children’s categories that attract you, you’re in great luck. Ms. Horan carries board books, current best sellers such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, all Harry Potter paraphernalia like journals with wands and other add-ons, and Melissa and Doug toys, games and jigsaw puzzles.
The store offers a collection of CDs, some of which play as background music. These CDs include local musical artists Dan Gable, Mark Mandeville, and Raianne Richards, who have also entertained local townspeople at the French River Park Summer Concert Series.
Many of the Booklovers’ alcoves and niches hold used books, consigned Life magazines, and, of course, probably every NY Times listed best-selling book, including biographies, history, mysteries, New England travel, current events, and how-to categories from fiction to non-fiction. If Ms. Horan doesn’t have it, she’ll order it for you.
Booklovers’ Gourmet also offers book discussion groups, a monthly writer’s group, and an open-mike poetry share. The front of her shop holds tables and chairs to relax and enjoy a hot or cold beverage, including coffee from Hogan Brothers of Framingham, a small batch micro-roaster that deals with fair trade and high-quality coffee beans. She has a nice variety of baked goods provided by Phyllis’ Bakery of Putnam, Conn. Tasty selections include fruit squares, turnovers, scones, biscotti, and quiches.
“I’ve seen so many people come into the store and make connections,” she says, “so many nice friendships have been formed over time. Customers who came into the place years ago now bring their children and even their grandchildren. I enjoy hearing my customers’ comments about my store—it’s what keeps me going and I have to say that my parents have been great too, Ed and Lorraine Ostrokolowicz. My dad made a lot of the bookshelves here. My husband, Mike Horan, has been such a great help as well.”
For holiday shopping, store hours will be as follows: Mondays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tues-Fri 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Sat 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Booklovers’ Gourmet is at 55 East Main Street, Webster; Phone: 508-949-6232. www.bookloversgourmet.com