Downtown Books packs its stuff, says goodbye with a send-off party Thursday night
Plans have once again been finalized for the four-star downtown Marriott hotel, which means Milwaukee’s beloved Downtown Books will soon be no more. But don’t go getting all sad on us quite yet. Although the store’s monolithic inventory of used paperbacks and travel guides is being packed up, it isn’t going very far. In fact, most of it is staying downtown. The chow straight from the horse’s mouth is that Downtown Books will be splitting up into three satellite locations—the first just across the street (308 E. Wisconsin Ave.), the second a few blocks south (624 N. Broadway Ave.), and the third a short drive to Walker’s Point (1134 S. 1st St.).
According to owner Keith Pajot, if all goes well, the Wisconsin and Broadway locations will open their doors in August and November, respectively. The opening date for the Walker’s Point location is still up in the air.
In celebration of getting the boot, a bucketful of Downtown Books’ employees and friends will christen the revered Milwaukee landmark with its first (and last) reading this Thursday. Eight readers, four musicians, and apparently a cello player will be on hand along with the store’s entire inventory of literary classics, grunge-themed algebra texts, and old porno mags.
But is there even enough room for all this action? “Of course,” says employee Parker Winship. There will be two stages on the second floor accommodating the hubbub. The first stage will be in “the conference room,” and the second will be “up the stairs and to the right, past the zebra rug, near where the Business, Mystery, and Foreign Language aisles intersect.” (Got all that?)
“We really want people to remember the store for what it was,” says Winship. “Getting lost and finding cool, odd stuff is part of what Downtown Books has always been about.”
Luckily, all show-goers will be given maps at the door, and sets of colored footprints will be plastered on the carpeting to help patrons navigate the ceiling-high stacks. Otherwise, everyone is free to roam around, schmooze, and make their peace with (or stock up on) their favorite analog media of choice. No Kindles allowed.
Doors open at 9 p.m., and the show begins at 9:30 p.m. And no, the roving cats will not be in attendance.