• aliciaunderleenels

Indie Bookstores in North Dakota

Updated: Apr 24

Indie bookstores in North Dakota are open for business — even in a pandemic. They’re getting creative, offering curbside pickup, front door delivery service, and personal shopping for gifts and care packages so we can all shop responsibility and practice social distancing. (And yes, it’s totally acceptable to give a care package to yourself. You’ve earned it. We’ve all earned it.)


You can also order titles you want and they’ll ship them to you. If there’s not an indie bookstore near you, please consider supporting one of my favorites.


Purchasing from an indie bookstore helps support a local business during these crazy times. And you’ll get to enjoy new books, toys, pretty stationary, music, and puzzles, so you’ll come out of this social distancing experiment a little more at ease. If you want to help, but don’t necessarily want to shop (even virtually) right now, you can purchase gift certificates for yourself for later or to give as a gift.


Here’s an overview of five of my favorite indie bookstore in North Dakota and how they’re adjusting to current challenges.

Reader recommendations at Ferguson Books in Bismarck. Photo from Ferguson Books


Ferguson Books and More in Grand Forks, Bismarck and West Fargo

All three Ferguson Books shops boast a tight-knit staff of book fans and a broad selection of new and used titles. But they have very different vibes.


The Grand Forks location is large and resides in a mall, while the Bismarck branch is more intimate and located downtown. The new West Fargo shop is the only bookstore in my home city and it's located right by a coffee shop, so I can get two of my favorite things at once - bonus.


They also buy most used books. And for every new book you buy, you can pick a pre-loved book for free! I've gotten exposed to so many new authors and titles this way.


Main Street Books in Minot

This Minot shop’s tagline is “Warm fuzzies with every purchase” and I think it accomplishes that, even if you can’t physically go into the shop. Main Street Books has a great selection of new and used books, thoughtful and quirky gifts and a kids toy and book section that rivals some toy stores.


The store began promoting its gift baskets and boxes for birthdays, anniversaries, self-care and other occasions during the pandemic. Staff members have a good eye, a sharp wit and a knack for putting together engaging in-store displays, so I trust their personal shopping judgement completely.


The shop also offers curbside pickup, shipping and home delivery. If they have a book in stock, it’ll say “On Our Shelves Now.” If it’s not in stock, it’ll ship in one to five days.

Tea and encouragement from Zandbroz Variety. Photo provided by Zandbroz Variety.


Zandbroz Variety

Browsing the carefully curated shelves and constantly changing window displays at Zandbroz Variety in downtown Fargo is one of life's simplest pleasures. This is the indie bookstore that first charmed me in high school and it hasn't stopped.


This shop has the atmosphere of an old fashioned drug store, but it’s packed with artful offerings, including clever gifts, educational and vintage toys, housewares, music, beauty products, jewelry, and impossibly pretty stationary, cards, and paper products. And of course, there’s an excellent selection of books. It’s my go-to when I’m looking for something by a regional author.


The Zandbroz crew team is currently acting as personal shoppers even more than usual, which is great because they’re good at putting together care packages and gift baskets on a variety of themes. The shop is especially well stocked with culinary, literary, beauty, and relaxation/self-care goodies and items with a little silly or snarky edge.


Books on Broadway

Books on Broadway in Williston is part bookstore, part coffee shop, and part community gathering place. It stocks a bit of everything, but I remember the kids section, and the variety of regional and western titles as being especially interesting. And since people can’t physically gather at the moment, the staff is finding creative ways to keep their customers connected.


You can always have books shipped to you from Books on Broadway. During the pandemic, the store has expanded to include curbside pickup for both books and carry-out coffee, muffins and other baked goods, so locals can keep up with their reading lists and get their caffeine and sugar fix.


The shop’s Facebook page also features performances, like a recent recording of guitarist and cowboy poet D.W. Groethe. Like the city and the bookstore, offerings often have a western flair.




Western Edge Books, Artwork, Music

Speaking of western flair, no North Dakota bookstore does it better than Western Edge Books, Artwork, Music in Medora. It's located in the heart of the popular western North Dakota tourist town and specializes in books on western topics.


Now, that might sound limiting. Honestly, when I first walked in, I assumed that meant there would be only books about cowboys or maybe those pulpy western paperbacks that seem to be the male equivalent of Harlequin romance novels. I was wary, since that isn't really my style.


In reality, the western mindset colors everything in this shop, from the history books and biographies and yes, western fiction to the shelves to the cookbooks, kid's titles and and visual art that provide color and interest. Western life is the lens the world is viewed through. And the shop's aesthetic and tight focus make shopping here a unique and highly specific pleasure.


What about you? What are you reading right now? What’s your favorite indie book store? Why do you like indie book stores? How are you supporting small businesses (not just indie bookstores) in this strange time?


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