Sally Wizik Wills, owner of both Beagle Books & Bindery in Park Rapids, Minn., and Sister Wolf Books in Dorset, Minn., announced over the weekend that she has consolidated the two locations into a single store. The new store is now called Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery.

The bookstores were located in adjacent tourist towns in central Minnesota’s Lakes region. The 800-square-foot Sister Wolf’s inventory was folded into the 1500-square-foot Beagle Books’ inventory this past fall after Sister Wolf, a seasonal bookstore, closed for the winter. Beagle and Wolf Books will remain in its current location in downtown Park Rapids.

There have been no employee layoffs, as personnel previously moved between the two stores, located six miles apart. Wills, who managed Sister Wolf and her daughter, Jennifer Wills Geraedts, who managed Beagle Books, will continue to operate Beagle and Wolf on a full-time basis, assisted by their four part-time employees. Both stores were well-known throughout the Lakes region for their seasonal programming; that will continue at the Park Rapids store.

The store’s new name and new website were unveiled for customers on Saturday, May 2, the first nation-wide Independent Bookstore Day. A grand re-opening celebration is scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend.

Wills noted that her husband’s retirement from his teaching job at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, 150 miles west of Park Rapids, precipitated the consolidation. There were also other factors at play. “Jen and I were working way too much,” she said, “Our hope in combining the two stores is that we can both have more reasonable work loads.” Wills also noted that the family hopes to grow the book bindery part of the business, which her daughter, Geraedts, runs.

“We don’t see this as closing one store,” Wills noted. “[We see it] as combining the two into a new entity.”

Sister Wolf was founded in 1994 by Mary Kay Watson, who sold it to Wills in 2004. Beagle Books was founded in 2001 by Jill and Deane Johnson. and Wills bought that store in 2007, adding bindery services a few years later.