MADISON, NJ - At the corner of Main Street and Green Village Road in the heart of downtown Madison sits Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub. The shop is multifunctional as a bookstore, neighborhood gathering spot, event host, and café and coffee shop. Co-owned by Mary Weichert and Barbara Short, Short Stories was begun in 2014 by Short and her daughters. They were generously advised by the owners of the recently-closed Sages Pages in Madison Borough, which closed due to a flood.  Short decided to create a new space with her own imprint. She strongly feels that “every downtown should have a bookstore.” Short Stories was kickstarted and shelves were built by the community in 2014. It opened in its current address at 23 Main Street in 2016, and was expanded into a cafe in 2019. Short exclaims “We’ll be belatedly celebrating our 4th birthday with a party at the store on March 23 and will turn 5 this Fall! The community named the store, brought it to life, and continues to be its heartbeat.”

General Manager Merril Speck is a veteran book purveyor – he previously worked at the Words bookstore in Maplewood and at Manhattan’s Housing Works Bookstore. He lauds the flexible nature of the space and refers to the shop’s website which states “Our big, open community space showcases leading authors and fosters local talent through community events, music jams, open mics, classes, workshops, book clubs, and art exhibits. We also host private meetings and events and invite daily creative expression on Johnny Guitar under the signature Short Stories Tree, or on our corner piano or blackboard and magnet walls.” The shop often hosts Madison High School and other school events, most recently last Saturday MHS’s musical theatre department’s Cabaret, and the Glyphs Literary Club open mics.

Speck states in his weekly newsletter “2019 is shaping up to be quite the year already! My New Year's Resolution as the new General Manager at Short Stories is to help the store grow and expand through all avenues we can handle, and we're definitely on the right track! I've kept myself busy ensuring that you have plenty of reasons to keep coming back all year long…”

 

The books sold at Short Stories include classics, best sellers, and a large section of children’s books. According to Speck, the largest group of customers are mothers of small children. It is his intent to expand the children’s department. The shop also features books by New Jersey authors. The staff orders books for its customers with no cost for shipping. The shop offers a 10% discount to senior citizens, veterans and active-duty service members, teachers, and local college students. Short Stories now sells greeting cards and has an extensive gift area, which includes theme socks and dish towels from Blue Q, new mints, soaps, sticky notes, small notepads from the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild and trivia box sets from Hygge Games. Soon to be stocked are wine bottle tote bags from Map Totes and stemless wine glasses from Cognitive Surplus.

The shop’s café has a full range of coffee, tea, hot chocolate and pastries. It serves soup, sandwiches, fruit bowls, and salads made offsite by café manager Andy Copp, the owner of the former Café Beethoven in Chatham.   The 1000 square feet community space can easily be reconfigured to accommodate large and small groups for book club meetings, lectures, corporate and private events. The cost of renting the community space is $75 per hour with a minimum of two hours. The cost to rent the entire book store plus the community space is $150 with a minimum of two hours.

Highlighted in the weekly newsletter are upcoming events. At Storytime on Saturday, March 2 at 2:00 p.m. is New York Times bestselling author Mo O’Hara. She is best known for her series My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish. She will be reading her latest picture book, Romeosaurus and Juliet Rex. Meg Anderson and Kim Chopoorian will be displaying some of their art work in the bookshop from March 1 through April 30. There will be an artist's reception on Sunday March 10th from 4pm to 6pm that will be free and open to the public.  On Wednesday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. “The Platform” will be presented by Arts by the People. This is a monthly open mic where participants get five minutes to show off their artistic talents. On Saturday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. David Murphy will sing folk, country and America songs. His sixth and latest CD, American Landscape, is produced by Grammy Award winner Ben Wisch. On Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. author John O’Rourke will discuss his nonfiction book “Mystery, Millions & Murder in North Jersey”.   O’Rourke has conducted hundreds of criminal investigations as a New Jersey state trooper. Described in the newsletter as “a story of a decent man, husband, and father who was kidnapped and treated with unfathomable cruelty at the hands of an ex-cop and his wife.” This event occurred in Morristown in 1992 and the victim was Sidney Reso, president of Exxon International. On Saturday, March 16 at 12:00 p.m., Mike Farragher will both read and sign for a Shamrockin’ St. Patrick’s Day celebration. He will be accompanied by the What’s What Band, a Madison favorite.  On March 23 at 7:00 p.m. Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub will celebrate its fourth year in business with a music-filled birthday bash. On Saturday March 30 Bill Meyer will return to the Short Stories stage He will be joined by Lovey Williams to present an afternoon of music. And every Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. Miss B, aka Brenda Leff, reads books to the pre-kindergarten crowd. She reads a mix of classic and newly released stories.

Madison resident Anne Meyer explained that she is a frequent customer of Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub. She praised its great selection of books and its friendly staff, which can order quickly whatever title it doesn’t have in stock. She was there purchasing a book to be read by her book club. She also lauded it as a great venue for music and community gatherings.

Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is closed Mondays. It is located at 23 Main Street and its contact information is 973-845-6085; books@shortstoriesnj.com; shortstoriesnj.com.