May 13, 2004 at 9:33 a.m.
Log Cabin Books in Stark, west of Harris, is billed by owner Judith Kissner as the most unique bookshop in Minnesota.
Without going to great lengths to verify that claim, it certainly is fair to describe it as unique. But, more noteworthy than its being a charmed place-- the bookshop offers a serious service. The number of decent bookshops in this entire region can be counted on one hand.
Kissner was working in the airlines business in September 2000, when the Twin Towers in New York City fell.
Determining it was time to quit flying; she rode the shockwaves of 9-11 to this new lifestyle. Book lovers can rejoice Kissner chose to pursue her passion and opened a bookshop.
Kissner’s neighbor Loralee Popehn actually owns the log cabin.
Popehn has outbuildings and a barn filled with antiques at her country place. She specializes in difficult-to-find large furniture items. The antiques business and the bookshop are two separate entities and each has its own driveway and parking area. That’s so you needn’t feel obliged to enter both businesses, Popehn smiled.
The Popehn children played in the re-assembled log cabin, after Loralee and her husband Ralph rescued it from a homestead in Floodwood, Minnesota 15 years ago.
As fate would have it, Kissner and Popehn met in a book club group meeting at a mutual friend’s home. They hit it off and Kissner wondered if she might use the log cabin as a bookshop.
After installation of sturdy, raw wood book shelves and a staircase, Log Cabin Books opened in 2002. Kissner said book clubs have found the setting a wonderful location for meetings, while other visitors just drop by for a cup of organic coffee and a look-see.
Kissner said she gets people heading up north on I-35 who make the quick swing off the interstate at the Harris ramp. And because she focuses on non-fiction and Minnesota history books-- she gets many customers in search of very specific topics or certain vintage volumes.
Her books range from brand new releases, classics, juvenile bestsellers to books a couple of hundred years old.
Kissner said about three-fourths of her sales are non-fiction. Several hundred volumes are available on the Civil War, World History, Natural History and females in the old west, one of Kissner’s favorite reads.
The log cabin has a chunky but elegant chrome-iron Round Oak brand woodstove, which takes up potential book shelf space. Kissner debates replacing it, but everybody just loves it.
“I look for books that withstand the test of time,” she explained. “Most have themes that make for great book group discussion.
“Connecting people with books is one of the most satisfying aspects of being a bookseller.”
She enjoys absorbing the wealth of details that customers share with her, as they search for just the right book. Kissner learns everyday about the business of publishing, about book materials and subjects. She will do electronic book title searches and help you find whatever you have in mind.
Log Cabin Books is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. through December 24.
It is closed Mondays.
The E-mail address is www.abebooks.com/home/LOGCABIN. But, this is a shop you really must visit. “Folks love the country setting, smelling the fire in the woodstove and just being inside an authentic log cabin,” Kissner pointed out. “Having interesting books helps, too.”