As I've mentioned, we were in San Diego in June for a family vacation. A bit of a working one for Martha, as she had a conference to attend. Our home base was the hotel where the conference was held, just few dozen metres from San Diego's harbour. Nearby was a place called Seaport Village, a cluster of shops, restaurants, boutiques and atractions that seemed to cater largely to visitors, although I imagine a lot of the business also comes from the southern California area.
Tucked in the area was a bookstore that became a hangout for us, partly because of the excellent coffee, partly because of the free wifi ... and definitely partly because it just felt comfortable.
It's very much the kind of bookstore I'd love to see in St. John's.
The Upstart Crow is in a building that seems like a cottage; if you didn't look at the surrounding buildings, you'd think you were in an English village.
It's what's inside, though, that mattered. The Upstart Crow has a fair bit of room. It has two levels, although the upper one is more of a partial attic, holding some of the books. It serves a variety of foods to go along with the coffee, with a cafe inside. The seating area is obscured in the shot below by a section of the bookshelves.
The selection of books wasn't particularly unusual; the pastries were not exemplary; the novelties and cards (a real profit centre of an independent bookstore, I'm guessing) can be found in other places.
But it all came together. The store had a vibe. We wanted to go there, just to relax and unwind. Nick and I played checkers on a table while Martha browsed the books; we stretched our legs and read quietly at the end of the day; we stopped in for a caffeine hit before we set out on the day's adventure. We never once felt rushed when we tapped into the complimentary wifi to catch up on the news. And, yes, we spent a fair bit there over the week.
It's something that's missing in the local retail scene.