Around Indies

Blue Manatee Profiled

The origins of Blue Manatee, the only independent children’s bookstore in Cincinnati, Ohio, were recently detailed by Fox 19. The store, formerly Blue Stone Bookstore, was purchased by local pediatrician Dr. John Hutton and his wife, Sandra Gross. As a doctor, Hutton saw firsthand the benefits of literacy and real-world experiences for children, and conversely, the dangers of too much screen time. The couple bought the store when its former owner put it on the market in 2000, and renamed it Blue Manatee.

“It was symbolic of what independent bookstores go through,” Hutton told the paper. “They are nurturing and intelligent and sweet, but endangered.”

The bookstore focuses on literacy and embraces the “analog mind,” while the in-store café serves simple, high-quality and sustainable foods with no additives.

 “For a small child, any interaction with a person reading a book is so good for a child’s cognitive, language, fine motor skills and emotional well-being,” said Hutton.

Breathe Books to add Café

Next month, Baltimore’s breathe books will be adding a health food café, reported the Baltimore Sun. The café will serve food that fits at least one of five categories: gluten free; vegan; vegetarian; raw; or Ayurvedic, a holistic medicinal food that originated in India. In doing so, the café will adhere to the bookstore’s mission to provide “books, music, and spiritual and inspirational items to help people continue their practice and journey.”

Owner Susan Weis-Bohlen raised $150,000 through loans and investments from friends and customers to build a commercial kitchen and add tables in the bookstore and on the second floor, as well as build a coffee bar on the wrap-around porch.

“The people who invested said, ‘Yes, we need something like this in the community,’” she told the paper. “And for me that’s the really exciting part of this.”

Brilliant Books Recognized

Brilliant Books has been named one of 10 finalists in the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce 2013 Small Business Celebration. The program highlights the role that small business play in the region’s economy, and more than 30 companies applied for the recognition, as reported by the Record-Eagle.

In the upcoming weeks, SBC judges will conduct site visits to finalists’ businesses to gain a deeper understanding of their operations in order to identify the recipient of the 2013 Hagerty Small Business of the Year Award. The finalists will also be feted at a Meet the Top 10 Breakfast on May 8 and this year’s winning company will be unveiled May 29.