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  • Alexander Robinson

Used Books and More!

This week for our local business showcase, we had the opportunity to sit down with the owners of Island Books & Crafts! Many who have entered this store see the rows of book shelves and the custom, locally made crafts stocking the shelves, walls, ceilings, and floors. From small to large woodworking, photos, paintings, clothing, this store contains more and more after the first glance. The store started in the winter of 2010 and will be celebrating 7 years shortly, but the history dates back to 1887 when it was originally built to house the Sault Savings Bank until 1959. In 1960 Traverse Bay Woolen took root and remained until 2000, at that point Saint Vincent De Paul took ownership until 2010. Island Books and Crafts' story began as a life long desire of Kelli Jarvi-Townsend to open a used bookstore for all to enjoy.

The storefront started in rough condition, and over the years has received many facelifts. In its infancy, Justin Knepper at the DDA helped Island Books and Crafts obtain a grant to assist with funding renovations to the building's facade. To date, in total, over $400,000 has been invested in repairing and restoring this building. Special prism glass, used to help light buildings prior to electricity, have been restored and reconstructed from the original building, some hidden under plywood and old signs for decades. Recent renovations include the massive undertaking of creating office spaces that will be rented out on the second floor of the building.

When you enter the store you can expect to see Kelli or Les Townsend greet you, and if you want to take a moment you can talk with Les, he will not only talk about his business, but the history of the location, and the Sault area in general. His wealth of knowledge and dedication to pass on that history will intrigue many!

Though the shelves are stocked with many, many things; one thing is for certain, you will see Michigan and locally made items from floor to ceiling. The goal for them is to keep the store as local as possible, as shown with many of the art work, woodwork, and clothing that fill this store. Local authors are featured prominently on the shelves, along with used (some you can't even tell they have been touched) books that span all interests. The only requirement for someone to have their pieces shown on the sale floor is that they are created by that person and are new.

Next time you are taking a stroll downtown, regardless of whether it is 87 or -26 out, take a look at this local, year-round store and you'll be amazed by what you see. You can find Island Books and Crafts on Facebook @IslandBooksAndCrafts and their website at

If you own a business, or have a business you would like to know more about, let us know! Call Alex at (906) 635-9131 or give him an email at

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