ONEONTA – With schools and libraries closed, Laurie Zimniewicz was worried that kids stuck at home wouldn’t have access to other worlds.
“Books help you go on an adventure in your mind,” she said. “It opens us to places we can’t be, and that’s so important when you’re sheltering-in-place.”
Inspired by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who put together a program with his local non-profits to distribute books with free lunch pickups, Zimniewicz partnered with Jim Havener, Green Toad Books, to raised money for and distribute books to Oneonta students.
Hops expert Al Bullard, Milford, top photo, who published “The Hops Farmer’s Year” in 2015, discusses the once-ubiquitous Otsego County crop, now being revived, with attendees – from left, Dorothy LaGasse, Sandy Chase and Donna Robinson, all of Cooperstown. The event was this morning’s “Partners In History” at Milford’s Upper Susquehanna Cultural Center, where historic displays were put on by local historians from across Otsego County. At left is Judy Kessler, president of the Milford Historical Society, which hosted today’s event in collaboration with the Otsego County Historical Association. Activities included a tour of the Sayre House and store, next door to the former Presbyterian church, conducted by Jim Havener. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – In a night of wonderful music and plenty of laughter, the Catskill Symphony Orchestra welcomed three guest conductors to the stage as part of their annual fund-raising event at SUNY Oneonta’s Alumni Field House.
Jim Havener, Sarah Manchester, and Craig Van Cott all took to the conductor’s stand to try their hand at conducting an orchestra.
OPEN MIC NIGHT – 6-8 p.m. Present your music, stories, poetry. Bring your own original work or the work of an artist you admire. Or enjoy the show. Cooperstown Village Library. Call (607) 547-8344 or visit www.facebook.com/VillageLibraryOfCooperstown/
RECEPTION – 5-7 p.m. Meet & Greet with the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Jim Havener will discuss books, his bookstore, how the program shaped his career. The Green Toad Bookstore, 198 Main St., Oneonta. Call (607) 433-8898 or visit www.facebook.com/TheGreenToadBookstore/
Whenever Jim Havener went out of town, he always brought something back for Michele Barry at the Green Toad Bookstore.
“He’d come in and say, ‘I stopped in the cutest little bookstore and they did this…’,” she said. “It showed me he was interested and in touch with what works in a business.”
It was that interest that inspired her to ask him about buying The Green Toad, the Main Street bookstore that’s become a downtown mainstay since she opened it in November 2008. “The community was thirsty for something like this, and we created a comfortable environment for readers,” she said. “We created a culture that didn’t otherwise exist in this community.”
And on Tuesday, Nov. 11, Havener started his first day as the bookstore’s new owner. “It’s like the first day of school,” he said. “That’s exactly how I feel. It’s exciting.”
In 2011, Barry began to think about retiring from the bookstore. “I started looking ahead to the future, when my daughter Jackie went off the college,” she said. “But it’s important to me that the store succeed, and we’ve got so many loyal, wonderful customers.”
Havener, a 1983 Cooperstown Graduate Program graduate, owner of the Furniture Doctor in Milford and the director of the Milford Historical Society, had been a customer of hers since the beginning. “I came in the first week,” he said. “I could come in and talk to her, or just come in to relax. Bookstores reflect the character of the people who run them, and that’s why this has become such a community-oriented place – because that’s who Michele is. I want to add to that.”
Havener has already begun adding his own personal touches, including a chair and a dresser to display hand-made jewelry and hats. “I restore furniture, so I want to add my home furnishings line,” he said. “I also want to introduce historic photography of the American vernacular, pictures of everyday life, and deepen the book selection. I read a lot of history and non-fiction.”
Gift cards and the Customer Loyalty program will remain in place, and much of the staff will continue to work there. “It will be the same, except Jim will add all his fabulous furnishings!” said Barry.
Barry will also continue to work at the store through the holiday season. “After that, the future is wide open,” she said. “I haven’t decided what I’ll do next.”