Downtown Spooner Business Highlight
Northwind Book & Fiber’s History
Northwind Book & Fiber was founded in 1993 by Norm and Alene Peterson. They combined the things they loved—reading and working with yarn—to create a business to run in retirement. It started in the small space across the street from its current location in what is now the Tattoo Parlor. By 2000 they had more than outgrown the 1000 square feet. Books were stacked two deep and it was difficult to browse with more than a couple people in the store.
When 205 Walnut St. became available, it was hard to imagine filling the 3500 sq. ft. space, but fill it it has. Constructed in 1917, the building originally housed a hardware store, a bank, and the Masonic Temple. The bookstore space was a hardware store until the bookstore moved in, except for a few months as a Christmas decoration store. The Petersons spread out the books and yarn, then added a consignment gallery of local art.
Carol Blizzard Dunn, the current owner, purchased the business in 2007 after working part-time there for years. She and her husband also own the building, so made a few improvements, including opening up the floor to ceiling windows in front and part of the tin ceiling. The rest of the building is occupied by Naturally North—log furniture and home décor, a dance studio, and an apartment.
The inventory of books and yarn have only grown since 2007. Toys, games, and puzzles have been added for all ages. An interesting selection of magazines is now available. Book-related items are also popular, such as book lights and t-shirts and pins featuring book covers.
The book business has had ups and downs (more downs) these past 20 years.
First, Barnes & Noble and Borders created intense competition for small independent bookstores. Luckily for Northwind, none was ever closer than an hour and a half away. Next was the arrival of Amazon, which started its business by taking on the book business. This has been a difficult situation for all bookstores, especially given that Amazon sells at close to cost in order to build market share.
The third proverbial shoe to drop was the advent of e-Books. When they took off even faster than projected, it appeared that physical books would go the way of vinyl and the VCR. However, e-Book sales soon flattened and have even dropped in some categories. Many readers decided they preferred to read an actual book.
In the last few years, independent bookstores have made a comeback, and Northwind Book & Fiber has enjoyed this renaissance. The shop small movement is another contributor to the success of some small town downtowns, with customers appreciating their local independent businesses and doing more shopping there rather than always online.
Northwind Book & Fiber is a general bookstore, featuring everything from popular fiction to regional history to cookbooks to a vibrant children’s section and more.
Knitters and crocheters will find a full line of yarn and supplies.
Whether it’s a beautiful cotton blend for summer knitting, gorgeous merino wools from Malagrigo, or super bulky yarns for the popular beanies, there is something for every project.
Classes in knitting, crocheting and other fiber arts are offered, in addition to weekly groups.
Games, toys, and puzzles have seen the most growth.
Jigsaw puzzles are hot right now—great for family get-togethers, long winters, and rainy summer days.
Board games are also popular at the cabin. Northwind has everything from simple games for young children to the classics to elaborate world building games. Many of the toys are educational or related to children’s books.
While books, of course, make great gifts, Northwind has a nice selection of gifts for the non-reader.
Jewelry made by local artisans, wood-turned bowls, pottery, and other artwork.
Northwind Book & Fiber is more than a store, it's an experience so make sure to stop in on your next trip to Spooner. You may even see a puppy reading if you're lucky!