At 15 years young, Magers and Quinn Booksellers may not be the Twin Cities’ oldest independent bookstore, but it has grown to become the largest. Having come of age in what has proven to be a turbulent decade and a half for booksellers worldwide, the store will take a moment this month to reflect on its past and contemplate its future. On Friday, August 28, this Uptown fixture will throw itself a “birthday party” to celebrate its evolution since the store was founded in 1994.
Magers and Quinn’s anniversary party begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 28, and will include a 15% storewide discount to mark its 15 years. The store is located at 3038 Hennepin Avenue South in Uptown, near Calhoun Square. Magers and Quinn is a member of the Metro Independent Business Association.
Like any good party, this anniversary event will include live music and refreshments (and is naturally open to the public). Literary civilians will have the opportunity to mingle with celebrities in the form of accomplished local authors. At the time this article was posted, a guest list of writers had not yet been finalized, but interested readers may visit Magers and Quinn’s website for updates.
Though Magers and Quinn first opened its doors 15 years ago this month, the store’s origins can be traced further back. Owner and founder Denny Magers first came to book sales years earlier when he acquired a collection of used books through his import/export business. Several years later, he shifted his attention to books full-time when he opened a small bookstore near the University of Minnesota, called All Books. The modern Magers and Quinn was born when Mr. Magers moved his store from campus to its present location on Hennepin Avenue, and changed its name to bear his own—and one other.
Since Mr. Magers maintains an active presence in his store, one wouldn’t be blamed for wondering whatever happened to the store’s second eponym, the conspicuously invisible Quinn. As it turns out, the name does not come from any co-founder or owner; rather, it is the maiden name of Mr. Magers’ mother. This is in keeping with the store’s identity as “a true family-owned, independent business.”
When asked what changes the store has seen in the last 15 years, Mr. Magers first pointed out his store’s tremendous physical growth, to some six times the floor space it started with in 1994. He also cited a change in inventory: “When we first started, we were primarily used and discounted books… not the full gamut that we are now.” Today, he says his staff is “up to our eyeballs with the inventory.”
Furthermore, in recent years the book industry as a whole has undergone Copernican changes: the expansion of “big box” chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders, the formation and rise to power of online retailers like Amazon.com, and most recently, the digitization of books themselves.
Magers and Quinn has tried hard to adapt with the changing market. Though online sales have encroached on brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, Mr. Magers says that “the Internet is a two-way sword”: his store has joined the fray and now does approximately one-third of its business online.
Mr. Magers is optimistic about the future. He says Magers and Quinn stands out among its peers because of its selection, atmosphere, and competitive prices. “If you mix those things together, it works,” he said. “At least so far.”
Ted Trautman (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer. He recently completed his two-year service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, where he taught English as a foreign language. He will head to New York this fall to hone his journalistic chops as an editorial intern at Harper’s Magazine, but could never leave Minnesota behind forever.