Uncle Hugo’s and Signs of the Times

Copyright © David Dyer-Bennet

The soft reopening of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s Bookstores in Minneapolis has been a success, and Don Blyly says in his latest “How’s Business?” newsletter that following Labor Day the stores will begin keeping their regular hours.

We’ve been open to the public since August 14 at 2716 E. 31st St., but at reduced hours, and we have been accepting donations of books but have not been buying used books.  About 90% of the new books we ordered have arrived, but lots of them have gone up in price over the last 2 years.  …The day after Labor Day we will go to our regular hours of 10 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 pm Sundays. 

Blyly also told readers what used books he will and won’t be interested in buying.

We will also start buying used books, but with certain exceptions.    We will not be buying magazines (and probably never will, lacking space to display them) .  We will not be buying mystery hardcovers or trade paperbacks (having about 150 cases of donated mystery hardcovers and trade paperbacks in the basement and not enough time yet to start running them through the computer) but we will eventually resume buying them after we figure out what we already own.

Because the new store only has about 80% of the retail space of the old store, we are not going to buy certain books that did not sell well the last few years at the old store, such as paranormal romances (urban fantasy yes, paranormal romance no, even though there is sometimes a slim difference between the categories), men’s action adventure series (Mack Bolen, Able Team, Executioner, etc.), submarine adventure novels, and we’ll pass on a lot of true crime books.           

And he explained why there isn’t a new sign on the building yet.

Some people have complained that they couldn’t find us, often calling from their car which was in front of the store.  Several have suggested that we needed a sign (as if I would not have thought of that on my own), so let me explain what has been going on.  Several months ago I hired the sign painter who last painted the sign at the old location, since it still looked very good 20 years later.  He expected to be able to do the sign around the end of July.   

Then I heard about a grant that would pay about 25% of the cost of signage, so I applied for the grant.  I was told that no work could be done until the grant was approved and the final paperwork signed.  It took longer than I expected for grant to be approved, but eventually I was able to tell the sign painter that he could start work.  He had me send him a check for half the cost so that he could buy the paint and other supplies.  After he got the check and went to buy supplies, he sent me an e-mail that he had just come down with covid, and this was obviously going to delay things. I looked into changing the black awnings for Glass Endeavors on the front of the store, and was told that it would be a big mistake to try to cover over the old painting on the old canvas.   

It would be far better to get new awnings with the awning company printing the Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s signage on new canvas, but the best way to do that would be for the sign painter to send computer files to the awning company for them to print from–but he can’t do that until he finishes the new sign.  I hope that sometime in September the new Uncles sign will be on the west wall and sometime in October the new awnings will be installed.    Until then, look for the Glass Endeavors signage to find the Uncles.

Copyright © David Dyer-Bennet

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7 thoughts on “Uncle Hugo’s and Signs of the Times

  1. Much joy; yearning to be there.

    Agree about paranormal romance. Even demand for Laurel Hamilton seems to have plateaued, then dwindled.

  2. Even demand for Laurel Hamilton seems to have plateaued, then dwindled.

    Part of that is probably because of the fact that (at least in my opinion) the quality of the books has fallen off a cliff.

  3. Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey says Agree about paranormal romance. Even demand for Laurel Hamilton seems to have plateaued, then dwindled.

    A long time ago, I read the first three or so, Merry Gently novels. I cannot say the series developed as it went along which is why I gave up on it. And her idea of sex is, errr, quite silly in the extreme.

  4. We stopped by yesterday on our way to Bouchercon. Don was interviewed by another reporter while we were there, and we (hopefully) contributed significantly to this month’s profit margin.

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