Bunch of Grapes has been Martha’s Vineyard’s year-round, independent, locally-owned bookstore for over 40 years. It has been a favorite to more than one president, to a large number of local and national authors, and almost every visitor and Summer resident I know has stopping by on their list of “must do’s” when they’re here. They have a great selection of books, Crane stationary (personal favorite), and a fantastic kids section with lots of books and toys to occupy kids. Only closing for major holidays and just having been renovated due to the fire at Cafe Moxie in 2008, you can imagine my surprise when I heard through the “grapevine” that Bunch of Grapes was looking for a new home in Vineyard Haven.
There are a lot of changes happening in downtown this year. It seems as though Vineyard Haven is experiencing quite a revitalization, and a number of those empty storefronts are going to be filled. When Bowl and Board closed in February 2010, there was a large vacancy left on Main Street. Two years later, there have been a number of businesses interested in that huge, corner location.
Back in February Midnight Farm, in need of a new home, was looking into the space. Apparently this is no longer the case, as the Hall’s were also speaking with another business about the space. I was shocked to hear it was Bunch of Grapes and like many, did not believe it. However, I have heard from a number of sources that this is the case.
I have also heard that not only will you be able to grab your favorite book there, but you’ll also be able to grab a cup of joe as well, according to another Vineyard Haven business, which would be collaborating with the bookstore. I actually really like the idea of grabbing a coffee and reading a newly purchased book or magazine there. The outdoor space in front of the building is just beggining to be used, and imagine the people watching that you could do there! I had enjoyed such experiences often at Barnes and Noble when I lived in Philadelphia (a lifetime ago).
So, if it is indeed true that Bunch of Grapes is moving after 40 years, it would be quite a change for Main Street. I imagine that many long-time clients would be shocked and many will have mixed feelings about such a big change. Though I really enjoy its current space, I adore Bunch of Grapes and think that anything they do, will only be to better the store and offer more to its customers. So why not?
While many book stores have run into financial difficulties because of technology, Kindle, iPad, etc., and other things competing for our precious free time, Bunch of Grapes has continued to survive and do well. They have not shied away from technology but rather have embraced it. Though nothing can compare to walking into the iconic book store and seeing the face of your favorite staff member, through their website, blog, Facebook and Twitter, they can provide you with the same staff expertise that you get to enjoy in the store. I think that is a welcome touch to so many impersonal on-line or off-island shopping experiences.
It’s also another way to keep you in touch with Vineyard during those long off-season months. You can order anything onilne from their inventory and warehouse, with the option to pick it up at the store or have it shipped to you. The best thing is that you can still find out what those trusted staff pics are, and don’t forget their diverse collection of author signed books — both of which you can’t get from some box-store or generic website.
Whether Bunch of Grapes stays in its current home or moves across the street, it will continue to be a major part of the Vineyard’s landscape. Presidents will visit and people will find their perfect beach read, and we’ll continue to have an amazing bookstore to visit all year long.
Thank you for reading On Point. Please remember to “Like” us onFacebook and “follow” us on Twitter. Please note that for this post much of what I am writing about comes from what I’ve heard from people on the street. So, please let me know if I am misinformed about anything. Just as I was writing this, someone told me that the space was going to be a family style restaurant like Linda Jean’s. So, I’ll keep you posted. Also, I welcome any suggestions for On Point.