With the tagline "books are like vitamins that taste like candy," Linda's Story Time in Monroe has been a place for readers of all ages to search for new books, catch up on local news and share stories for more than a decade.
Owned by Stratford resident Linda Devlin, the independent book store specializes in children's books, but offers an eclectic selection of adult titles.
A 30-year veteran of the book industry, Devlin opened her bookstore 14 years ago after working for 1½ years at Waldenbooks before being hired at Klein's of Westport where she managed the book department.
"I started when Amazon was a rain forest and e-book was a typo," she said. "My main competitor when I first opened in 1999 was the chain stores."
A voracious reader, Devlin said her independent book store has survived the tough economic times, while chains like Border's and Waldenbooks closed. She credits her success to her passion and understanding of her readers.
"I know my books, I know my readers, and when I order books, I order them with my readers in mind, not just the general population," she said, and in spite of the ever-popular e-reader, her sales have risen in the past few years.
"People use words like `convenience' when they talk about eBooks, but it doesn't replace the experience of shopping for books in a book store. It's enriching, it's tactile, it's colorful," she said.
The 800-square-foot store is 95 percent books for young people, with the remaining 5 percent being adult classics and best new arrivals.
Using IndieBound.org, Devlin selects titles chosen by fellow independent sellers. She also taps into her customers' interests and recommendations.
Because Linda's Story Time is a niche market, Devlin said she is able to carry an extensive selection of children's titles.
A shelf entitled "Child's Essential Library" is designed for expecting mothers to include classics like "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" and "Harold and the Purple Crayon."
"It's for people going to a baby shower, and they know the mother will get 92 copies of `Goodnight Moon', and they want to get something a little different," Devlin said.
As a mother of a 14-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl, Meg Soto, of Sandy Hook, said Linda's Story Time has been a place for her family to escape from their hectic lives and find great stories.
"It's a little oasis in this busy world," she said. "It's the personal touch of the owner, she draws you into her store. I don't want a picture of a book. I want an actual book that I can hold and look through and smell. It's like history."