Co-op bookstore This House of Books opens in downtown Billings - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Co-op bookstore This House of Books opens in downtown Billings

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Gary Robson (MTN News Photo) Gary Robson (MTN News Photo)

Downtown Billings welcomed a new tenant this weekend with a bookstore opening up shop near Alberta Bair Theater.

At the old Masonic Temple building along Broadway, This House of Books is an independent full-service bookstore that hopes to create a literary and cultural hub in the Magic City.

"The book business peaked in about 2007," said Gary Robson, House of Books General Manager and CEO. "What we've seen in the independent bookstore world for the last three years is a steady increase in the number of independent bookstores around the country and the market share of independent bookstores around the country. We've seen it in Red Lodge. And Billings has lacked a general new bookstore downtown since Thomas Books closed."

Originally Robson and crew planned to open the location at the old Wendy's along 2nd Avenue, but with the area in flux with the new One Big Sky Center planned, Robson said it would have been difficult to grow business with all the construction.

The bookstore's first weekend of soft opening means some work still needs to be done, but the spot will offer a tea bar as well as game nights on Thursdays and chances to meet the author.

Owner Gary Robson brought the success from Red Lodge to Billings in hopes to spark a community location all ages will visit.

"Being the only general bookstore downtown, we have a broad selection, but we also have a focus," he said. "And our focus is local, our focus is western and we also focus in nature, outdoors both in the kids and adult books. So local authors, books about this area, books that take place here -- all of these are ones we bring in that the chain stores don't necessarily carry." 

Since it is a co-op, This House of Books has more than 200 owners.

A grand opening will be set for sometime later this month.

"That's what this store is really all about," Robson said. "There are lots of places you can go to buy a book or a toy. There are not a lot of places that you can go that create a literary and cultural hub and that's our goal for Billings. That's why we're bringing in on average three authors a week for events and why we're doing so well so far at bringing in members that are published authors in parts of the arts community."

You can follow the bookstore's updates on its Facebook page here.

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