Fair Trade Books

  Reveler, the bookstore dog, at Fair Trade Books in Red Wing.    Photo courtesy of Sarah Kiczula Photography

Reveler, the bookstore dog, at Fair Trade Books in Red Wing.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Kiczula Photography



Fair Trade Books first opened its doors in Red Wing in early 2014 and now plans to open a second location in downtown Rochester. The store sells new and used books as well as vinyl records and fair trade merchandise.  Much more than a bookstore, Fair Trade Books has hosted over 200 events in its 4 ½ year history. Ranging from author signings to topical films, lectures, musical and dramatic performances, to game nights and comedic improv classes, these events have made it a linchpin of arts and culture in the community. All the unique spaces in the castle community will be used, including the Castle Commons, CC Studio, and the third floor Event Space. Owner Rick DeVoe is particularly excited about the large capacity of the Event Space, as it affords the possibility of hosting a high caliber lecture series, as well as higher profile entertainers in general.

The economic impact of having a bookstore downtown would be significant. A recent study (Chateau) revealed that per capita spending in Rochester on reading materials is $256 a year. How many of those $25.6 million dollars ($256 x 100,000) are captured by the local economy?  Nowhere near enough. Devoid a good bookstore downtown that offers both new and affordable used books, the bulk of those dollars escape via the internet (Amazon+). Considering that money spent locally has a multiplier effect of 4 to 1, this represents a catalytic opportunity. Presence alone enables much of this, but with the unique business model developed and implemented by Fair Trade Books, a  competitive value proposition (matching store credit) is offered which peels away Amazon patronage. Furthermore, the dollars cited above do not include sales generated from visitors to Rochester, who would be attracted to a bookstore downtown with a welcoming ambiance.

DeVoe is enthused about partnering in the Castle Community with artists on the second floor, which the bookstore will share with them. The inclusion of the indoor commons on the same level, which will have a public square feel, is particularly appealing to him, as he believes it will be to Rochester residents and visitors alike.