When Arcadia Books opened its doors in downtown Spring Green this past May, owner James Bohnen found himself realizing the dream he’s had since his twenties. A director at the nearby American Players Theater since 1996, Bohnen bought the 140-year-old building about three years ago with the store basically planned out in his head and the belief that a culturally vibrant city like Spring Green would embrace an independent, community-focused bookstore.
Arcadia’s mission is to go beyond the typical small-town bookstore by providing a space where people can gather and read, have a conversation over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and grab a bite to eat. “There were good morning places already open in Spring Green, but not that many places open in the afternoon and evening except for bars,” says manager John Christensen.
With its yellow and clay-colored interior, Arcadia feels cozy. Yet high ceilings and big windows make it light and airy for a place that holds so much: a café, several wooden tables for eating and relaxing, and of course, cases of beautiful new books—about 9,000, according to Christensen. The result is a painstakingly curated collection of books ranging from graphic novels to popular titles by Stephen King to local authors. Arcadia also has a section of Penguin Classics, a large drama collection and, “probably the best poetry case in the state,” says Christensen.
Bohnen also envisioned a café as part of his bookstore and the result is a collaboration with Chef Jacki Singleton (shown here with manager Christensen), owner of Bananas on Fire catering, who runs The Kitchen at Arcadia Books. Singleton serves up ethnic and classic Americana fare made with local seasonal ingredients. Singleton also selects a cookbook for their regular “Cook the Book” events and hosts a class on how to prepare a few of the recipes. Those enrolled receive the cookbook, learn to cook the selected recipes, and get to take portions of the feast home with them.
Arcadia Books offers several other regular events, including book club meetings and author readings. Past visiting authors include Wisconsin favorites Dean Bakopoulos, Jacqueline Mitchard, and Jerry Apps. Also, this last November Bohnen lead a full cast reading of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles.
Arcadia Books and The Kitchen at Arcadia Books are located at 102 E. Jefferson Street in Spring Green. For more information please visit readinutopia.com or call 608-588-7638.