Mondragon: The Treasure House
Home to Bucknell University, the small town of Lewisburg has found its label as a college town. With that title comes a great deal of pressure; what is going to attract students to our stores? Mondragon Books is surely a “treasure house” as they state on their website. With a it’s large selection of books and very homey style, Mondragon is surely a town favorite for me, as well as their most valuable customer, “The Cat” who enjoys being pet by incoming customers as well as naps on their pink couch complimented with dragons.
Tim Cresswell is responsible in explaining the meaning of place in his work, Place: A Short Introduction. In order for something to be considered a place, you have to experience what it is like to be in that area to develop your own ideas of this “place.” These ideas will allow you to develop an attachment to this place leaving you with a positive feeling whenever you visit. Surrounded by loads of boutiques as well as sandwiched between a restaurant and a vacuum shop, my initial thought of Mondragon was that its victorian exterior wouldn’t match up to its storefront counterparts and it could be missed by possible customers or more importantly, would not allow locals to develop this important sense of place. However, as we were greeted by a tall, mint green building with a bold sign, I quickly realized that there was no reason for this bookstore to worry about being overshadowed by its surrounding stores. This funny looking building created a sense of place when I looked at it for it was so unique unlike the boutiques and restaurants.
What is so important about keeping independent bookstores alive? What does the difference between a chain bookstore and an independent bookstore mean? This was a question Laura J. Miller made me ask while reading her book Reluctant Capitalist. Walking into Mondragon, I was not only greeted by “The Cat” as the employee at the front desk called him/her, but, I amazed at how many books one could fit into one story of a house. Four rooms dedicated to their own genres like history, cook books, children’s stories, mystery, etc. This independent bookstore was an under appreciated Barnes and Noble, a chain store. With its warm lighting and towering shelves, I found Mondragon to be more homey than its competitor. Mondragon was comfortably small. With its few guests, it held enough space within the area that one is able to sit down and break away from the world while they read until their heart is content… Or until the store is about to close. Barnes and Noble who happened to be three blocks away from this small bookshop seemed to be more stuffy as my peers and I drove by it.
As I had walked around in amazement looking at the smaller aspects of the bookstore, I had noticed that the store had been covered in art, my favorite being one that read “I’m in a good place right not. Not emotionally, I’m just at the bookstore.” There was also warm lighting, a coffee station with a note allowing customers to know that ‘coffee is on at Mandragon!”, and comfortable seating. These little pieces of art that one could assume was just randomly placed throughout the bookstore or the warm coffee and the seating
placed in front of the window lead me to think that the interior design of this book was deeper than just that. These relatable pieces of art can make visitors feel less like they’re at a book store and more like they are lounging around their own house looking for a good book to read with a warm cup of Mandragon coffee in hand. This was a brilliant way of attracting customers.
Mondragon’s store is definitely what I would consider the perfect store for a “college town.” The amazing aesthetics of the place allows it to be considered a living space, a space for individuals to make relationships with fellow book lover, something Roger from Parnassus on Wheels dreamt of. This is a place for college students who seek to take a break from course work to relax and enjoy a good book at Lewisburg’s “Treasure House.”