Annie Randall may say her golden retriever Nellie is the main reason people keep coming to her Village Booksmith store in downtown Baraboo, but more likely it’s cozy atmosphere and diverse collection of used books. Wedged between crowded bookshelves, stuffed armchairs provide the perfect reading nooks for perusing the shop’s wide variety of books, journals, and quirky postcards. A grand piano stands off to one side, a smattering of books on top. Classic jazz music wafts amongst the eclectic blend of artwork and curios that line the shop walls.
With a stockpile of books and years of used bookstore experience, Randall opened the Village Booksmith in May 1998, taking over a segment of the defunct F.W. Woolworth store on Baraboo’s beautiful courthouse square. She has gradually expanded the space into the far reaches of the building, creating alcoves perfect for browsing through books and boxes of LPs.
Randall doesn’t specialize in any genre, aiming instead to “have the best possible inventory in every category.” This enables her to offer titles on harder to find topics such as bull fighting and polo. “If it’s a great book, I buy it,” she says. Books by Wisconsin authors are in abundant supply, too, and Randall always carries new titles if the subject or author is related to the greater Baraboo area.
The Village Booksmith also hosts free community events on a regular basis. There is musical entertainment every Wednesday evening and poetry gatherings and Toast of the Town—an open mic night—each Friday. Several groups also hold monthly meetings in the bookstore, including the Sauk County Writers Group, book discussion clubs, and a Spanish conversation group.
The Village Booksmith is located at 526 Oak Street in Baraboo. Call 608-355-1001 for more information.