This week Books & Books made the news again, this time included in the article “38 Essential Miami Shopping Experiences”. One of the few U.S. indie booksellers with more than one location, Books & Books is a thriving business, driven by Mitchell Kaplan, a passionate entrepreneur. What makes a shopping district interesting and special? Indie retailers like Books & Books.

Historic downtown Fernandina Beach, 100% indie

Historic downtown Fernandina Beach, 100% indie

Aren’t we all really tired of strip malls with chain stores and the soulless expanse of the box boxes that fill our countryside? Seems so. When you think about what destinations are chosen for vacations and weekend get-aways, it isn’t the Holiday Inn at the Interstate next to the cluster of national chains. It’s the town with character, charm, personality of bistros, Bed & Breakfast inns, boutiques, galleries and shops with unique items.

This week I ran some errands in our little historic downtown in Fernandina Beach, Florida. The sidewalks were filled with people, especially in this week before Easter. It was lunchtime, so people were dining at courtyard restaurants and browsing through the indie shops. People were sitting on benches and others eating ice cream cones.

We love a special sense of place. It helps us feel human, connected, and a part of something greater than ourselves. You can’t get that at a national chain and you can’t get it online, but you can get it at an independent bookstore and cafes and shops that are locally owned.

We owe our gratitude to the business owners, like Books & Books who create these wonderful places that feed us in important ways.