What do you do when your store is located in a 200-year-old Colonial, once home to George and Charles Pillsbury, founders of the Pillsbury Flour Company, and you can't afford to do the level of programming you'd like in the barn out back? Five-year-old MainStreet Book Ends, a general bookstore with a strong children's section in Warner, N.H., solved that problem by forming a separate nonprofit corporation for literacy events, which is housed in the for-profit store.
"It took two years to get the nonprofit, MainStreet Warner Inc., going," said co-owner Katherine Nevins. "It benefits anything educational for downtown Warner, and very much feeds into what we do."
All of the store's programming, which is held in the barn, which has since been converted into an art gallery, is done by MainStreet Warner. Most evenings there are yoga or tai chi classes, family memoir workshops, musical performances and/or author readings and signings. Co-owner Jim Mitchell, who heads the nonprofit, estimates that the store does about 250 events a year, ranging from a storytelling workshop with local author Odds Bodkin to a signing by local author Mary Lyn Ray, whose Basket Moon was the final book illustrated by Barbara Cooney. The nonprofit does monthly mailings to promote gallery events and other related activities in the tiny community of Warner, (population 2,400). It also applies for grants; its first one will enable the community to write and produce a play based on a Warner citizen.