I love Third Place Books.
It’s like someone reached into my brain and pulled out my idea for a perfect business. This place is a real, brick and mortar manifestation of my dream business, with the added benefit that I am not running it, which gives it a fighting chance.
The store’s website (sorry, I’m having trouble with links tonight) explains the name and concept as follows.
Sociologist Ray Oldenberg suggests that each of us needs three places: first is the home; second is the workplace or school; and beyond lies the place where people from all walks of life interact, experiencing and celebrating their commonality as well as their diversity. It is a third place. In his celebrated book, The Great Good Place, Oldenberg discusses how the cafes, pubs, town squares and other gathering places make a community stronger and bring people together.
The folks at Third Place set out to create a “third place”, and they nailed it.
The store anchors a shopping center, the parking lot of which hosts the Lake Forest Park Farmers’ Market on summer Sundays. That’s what took us there today in the first place. Let’s leave that bit of outdoor awesomeness aside for this post and focus on the indoor awesomeness.
So you have a book store. This is an independent bookstore that buys and sells used books. It’s the type of bookstore that hosts author readings and such. There’s a large selection for the whole family. But that’s not what makes Third Place stand out. The real gem is the commons. The commons is home to five resaurants. There’s a bakery/cafe, a burger stand, and Japanese, Mexican and Italian restauranges. Add a meeting room and a stage, and you’ve got the perimeter of the commons. There’s also a floor-sized chess set and a children’s activity area. There are tables of various sizes and even a selection of boardgames. Today, there was a family playing one. There was also a set of guys who looked to be playing a role playing game. There was also a gentleman with a suitcase full of games far more interesting that what you might find at Toys R Us. The stage host music concerts and speakers, and there is always something going on, whether a writer’s workshop or a Mah Jong tournament. Third Place Books truly is a community gathering place, and that’s pretty amazing.