Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road this past summer for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…
KANSAS CITY, Kansas — OK, America. We need to talk. When I rolled into Kansas City I had no preconceived notions about it. I know they have a perennially bad baseball team and most of the nation is confused about whether the city is in Kansas or Missouri (answer: both). But nobody has ever mentioned that Kansas City is drop dead gorgeous. And it is. Although I was behind schedule by the time I showed up at Rainy Day Books, owner/founder Vivien Jennings and Chief Operating Officer Roger Doeren kindly drove me around scenic southern Kansas City and, frankly, I was amazed. Even if the rest of the city is somehow hideous (which I can’t fathom being true), the corridor housing Rainy Day Books and moving along Brush Creek is deserving of a visit.
Depending on the night you’re running around southern K.C. you might just find yourself in the midst of an impressive crowd of fellow book lovers. If that’s the case, don’t be alarmed, it just means that Rainy Day Books is hosting another magnificent author event. Nobody knows how to throw an event quite like Rainy Day, with crowds so large they routinely have to move to Unity Temple in Kansas City Plaza just to hold them all. With huge events down the street, a breathtaking bookstore, and a delicious restaurant right near by (believe me, I speak from experience), Rainy Day Books is the center-point to one of the most dynamic communities in the country.
Vivien Jennings and Roger Doeren gave answers to our Algonquin Questionnaire.
What used to be in this location before Rainy Day Books?
I can’t exactly remember what was in this location before we moved here, but we’ve been in three different spots in this same complex, and the space that we used to occupy is now the police station, which is rather funny.
What inspired the name Rainy Day Books?
I wanted a name that created an image of a pleasurable and repetitive experience, and Rainy Day had good connotations associated with it. And as an added bonus we get free advertising whenever the weatherman says Rainy Day.
What is the oddest non-book item you sell in the store?
It’s a little odd for a bookstore, but we sell chocolate covered almonds from a community restaurant, Andre’s, which are amazing. We don’t hold very many sidelines in the store, but we want to provide items of great quality that complement books rather than competing with them.
What is your favorite Algonquin book and your favorite book to recommend this summer?
B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger is the perfect answer to both those questions.
Is there a staff cocktail of choice?
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened at Rainy Day Books?
There are two things that come to mind. This past Valentine’s Day we had a customer who wanted to renew his love for his wife by hiding a ring in a book. We were glad to help and had rose petals on display. It was extremely sweet. There was also one day when I came to the store and found an envelope on the ground. Inside was $100 in cash and a handwritten letter that explained how, years before, a young man had stolen some books from our store. Now older and financially stable, he said that he wanted to pay for the books with interest now that he realized how involved Rainy Day is in the community. It was strange and surprising, but it reminded us of the importance of independent bookstores.
Next stop: Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois.
*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…