Small Business Saturday: Household Books

If you read my post over an event I went to recently called Plates & Pages at Five on Vine in Cincinnati, you may recall me talking about the bookstore that was the “pages” part of the event. I enjoyed the pop-up shop at the event and conversing with the owner so much that I decided to visit the actual bookstore, Household Books, at its location only two miles down the road from the restaurant. It’s located in Walnut Hills, which is an area of Cinci I’d never been to before, but it’s super close to the University of Cincinnati, Eden Park, the Cincinnati Ballet, and the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Upon walking into the bookstore, I was surprised at how large and open the space was.

A shot of pretty much the entire bookstore. It's the view when you walk in the front door. A table of books right in front, a lounging area with brown leather couches and tables beyond that, a big banner sign that reads

The owner, Bobby Minelli, welcomed me in and gave me the grand tour as he told me a little bit about the space, as well as some of his plans and goals for Household.

There’s this cozy little art-lounge section:

A section of the store with three leather chairs across from a long couch. There's several paintings on the walls and an area rug.

A curated collection of vintage clothing takes up most of the back left section of the store:

A rack of vintage clothing. More racks with clothes are visible in the background.

This is also where the records are!

A wooden box of records. The visible one in front is

As well as more art on the walls:

Several paintings hanging on the wall, spaced out sporadically.

There’s a whole wall of cookbooks:

A huge bookshelf full of nothing but cookbooks.

And a separate shelf of extra cool vintage cookbooks (I might be a little biased, but this was definitely my favorite section):

A medium sized bookshelf full of unique and vintage cookbooks.

Aside from the wonderful and diverse collection of used books, records, and vintage clothing, they also have rare books and first editions, like this version of The Princess Bride:

Or all these cool designs of the Harry Potter series:

A small dark green bookshelf containing several different collections of the Harry Potter series.

I’m not sure if you can read the sign on top, but it states that fifty percent of all Harry Potter sales will be donated to organizations that protect our Trans community. Barnes & Noble could never.

If browsing books isn’t your style, they also host tons of community events! Black youth reading nights, yoga, comedy shows, music, and more. Plus, their collaborative off-site events like Plates & Pages, which is happening again at Five on Vine next week on Wednesday the 25th. Sadly, I can’t attend this one, as I’ll be out of town, but if you go let me know how amazing it was.

These types of events are essential to what Household Books is all about: community and connection. Household is meant to be a place of engagement and enrichment for all in the community.

Of course, I had some burning questions about owning a bookstore and some of the books in the vast collection, and Bobby was kind enough to answer all of them for me!

Here’s a few:

1. What’s been the coolest part of owning a bookstore?
A: Hard to pick the coolest! Maybe I can narrow it down to three?  Watching people connect in a space I have where I have planted, watered, tended, seeing kids enjoy it in the way I enjoyed bookstores as a child (with no more consideration for how it got there than an old oak tree),  and seeing my family feel at home surrounded by books.
2. What is one book in your collection you won’t be parting with?
A: I have a copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay that Michael Chabon dedicated and signed after a really cool conversation. It’s my number one.
3. What genre do you see get purchased the most from your shop?
A: I’m always impressed by the range, but for me, and perhaps it’s a reflection of my taste, I sell a lot of vintage horror and gothic romance.
4. What’s some of your favorite events to host at your store?
A: I love subcultural cross-pollination, and I love mixing highbrow and lowbrow, whether it be aesthetic or conceptual. So having rock n roll in a bookstore has been my favorite so far, but I have designs on doing a scary storytelling night, and I am really looking forward to that!
5. What’s the genre you read the least often?
A: I want to read more non-fiction, but I find it tough when the state of fiction is soooooo damn good.
6. Did you ever see yourself having a bookstore in Cincinnati or did it just kind of happen unexpectedly?
A: In a strange way, it makes perfect sense. I also spent a great deal of time thinking about the idea of Household, what I loved about bookstores, and what I wanted to try in new ways. I couldn’t be more grateful for the way life shook out.
7. What’s the oldest book in your personal collection?
A: The Art of Memory; Whether Clear or Transparent – 1715
8. What’s the most expensive book you’ve ever bought?
A: Purchasssssed? The Easton Press set of the Lord of the Rings which I did some heavy bartering for and still set me back a lot of chips. But fortunately, most of the really pricey books I have in my collection, I was able to find in the wild.
9. Do you plan to sell things other than books, records, and vintage clothes, or is that kind of the max amount of stuff we can expect to see in the store?
A: I think, in terms of further output, I would rather put my focus on creating a subprint or a label- so I’d love to sell books and or records, or photo books or zines, that  were made ‘In House’ and I am already moving in that direction.
10. What is your favorite quote from any book/magazine/article you’ve ever read?
A: “Take care-there is no force more powerful than that of an unbridled imagination.”― Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

As you can see, Household Books is a truly wonderful space that I highly encourage checking out for yourself. There’s art to enjoy, great music to hear, friendly staff to converse with, and so many books to check out! I’m delighted to know that such a cool place exists in Cinci. Even if it is a bit of a drive for me, I’m glad that people in the area have such an accessible, welcoming place to peruse books.

What first edition book would you be interested in having? Do you have a record player? What’s a local bookstore near you that you enjoy? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

14 Comments on “Small Business Saturday: Household Books”

  1. The family and I will be in Cincy for a performance of Fiona: The Musical. We’ll have to check out Household Books while we’re there.

  2. I have a first edition of a cool science fiction book called “Old Man’s War”. I hope to meet the author one day so he can autograph it for me.

  3. Once again, a shoutout to all bookstores run by your local Friends of the Library organizations!

  4. In my mind I’m on the plane to Cincinnati. I wish this place were in Boston, though we have the marvelous Brookline Booksmith (with vintage clothes practically next door). Thanks, Athena!

  5. if you should hear that delightful shoppe was jacked up off its foundations on a moonless night, outright stolen, loaded on a barge to sailed off to ports unknown… nope I didn’t do it nor should anyone waste their time looking for it in my neighborhood…

    New York used to have all sorts of quirky shoppes but alas as rent per square foot has spiked into insane numbers there’s no longer much in way of quirk… we need it more than you do…

  6. In Kansas City, Missouri, there is Prospero’s Books. It’s on 39th Street. There are three floors of books in what used to be a hardware store.

  7. Thanks for sharing Athena!

    Love the policy on HP books – smart and giving. Especially as I am pretty sure the profit on new HP books hovers around 40-45%, so that means the owner loses/donates 5-10% on every HP book sold and makes no profit on it.

    Always inspired by stories of indie bookstores making it!