Some say good things come in small packages.
That's definitely the case with the Friends' Library Store located in the Rochester Hills Public Library lobby.
This little gift shop, run by a very active group of Friends and volunteers, uses every square inch to offer unique gifts and decor.
Best of all, from now until month's end, the entire store is 25 percent off, excluding Pewabic Pottery and the Library cookbook.
With so much great merchandise to browse, I asked Friends and store volunteers Ruthann Bajorek and Gladys Scheri, both retired teachers, to tell me their bestsellers. Here are some of the highlights:
- Pewabic Pottery. A Detroit original since 1903, Pewabic Pottery — with tiles, ornaments and vases — makes a great gift.
- Michigan cutting board. Friends' Library Store makes it a priority to carry Michigan-made products, and this wooden carving board is a lovely one. It would make a great hostess gift.
- Blenko glass. Handmade in the USA, Blenko glass is popular with collectors and as gifts.
- Bookends. It should come as no surprise that a library gift store would sell bookends. The selection is at its peak in April when they are popular graduation gifts.
- Jewelry. "We offer pretty, funky jewelry — stuff you can't find anywhere else and at decent prices," Bajorek said.
Check out the photo gallery for more merchandise, including gifts for kids — like rocks, stuffed characters and Spy Bags.
Friends' Library Store really has a reputation for offering fun and festive holiday decor. Right now the shop is filled with whimsical Halloween decorations – all part of the 25 percent off deal.
A few turkeys have made their way into the shop, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, with more to be added.
And before long, the shop will be all green, red and gold as Christmas decorations start filling the shop in the beginning of October.
Bajorek gave me a sneak peek in their storage room of what is coming up for Christmas. Check out the photo gallery and start making a list. (Top of my list is that adorable moose!)
Speaking of Christmas— last year Friends' Library Store began offering collectible pewter ornaments of the library's sculptures. The 10 sculptures in and around the library are as recognized as the building itself.
The 2010 ornament, still available in limited quantities, is Little Reader, the sculpture of the boy on the bench that can be found in the foyer area. Many visiting children like to take a minute to sit with the boy or pat him on the head. He's become an unofficial library greeter for visitors of his size and now he can hang on your tree.
This year, starting in October, the store will offer Boy On the Ball, dated with 2011.
There is also a pewter ornament of the library building that is offered every year.
Ornaments are $12 or two for $20. The ornament comes with a ribbon for hanging and a velveteen bag for storage.
A Friend indeed
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of shopping at the Friends' Library Store is the personnel.
The store is run by about 40 volunteers, many of them Friends of the Library. Their passion is helping the library and they take great pride in their store.
"The biggest compliment we get is when people come in and tell us this is where they come when they need a unique gift," said Bajorek.
Celebrating 50 years
This year the Friends are celebrating their 50th anniversary.
Friends is an organization dedicated to building a close relationship between the library and its patrons. Part of how they do this is by raising funds for projects, activities and acquisitions outside of the library budget. The store is a big part of their ongoing fundraising efforts.
You do not have to be a Friend to volunteer at the store. However, if you are interested in becoming a Friend, you simply fill out an application form (visit the library or www.rhpl.org for the form) and pay annual membership dues. The dues are $10 for students/seniors, $20 for individuals or $35 for families.
As a member your dues will help fund library programs. You will receive a membership card that will allow you access to a members-only presale at the used book sale and 10 percent off on purchases at the Friends' Library Store. The next used book sale starts Wednesday.
Friends' Library Store is located in the Rochester Hills Public Library lobby. It is open Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. From November 30 to December 21 it is open Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.