17 West Main Street, Wilmington, VT
Wilmington could be any anonymous crossroad town on a long road trip, but I assure you, it isn’t. Where that one small village exactly halfway to your destination might usually have a gas station, a diner, a mechanic, a traffic light flashing yellow, and then a cluster of homes, Wilmington seems to be an exception to that rule. Situated exactly halfway between Bennington and Brattleboro in Vermont, and serving as the entryway to such ski resorts as Mt. Snow and Stratton, Wilmington is probably a lot of people’s favorite little town, bustling with galleries, antique stores, cafes, restaurants, little hotels, and of course, a couple bookshops.
Bartleby’s is the town’s purveyor of new books, and covers all the necessary bases you’d want in a shop. When you walk in the door, you run smack into various displays of the newest titles and gift books leading you deeper into the stacks. To the right is the island where the staff will happily ring you up and help bookworms find titles. They seemed pretty busy the whole time I was there, and the shop was lively and full on a summertime Saturday. Near that island there were tables and chairs, lots of cards and gifts, and some local/regional nonfiction books.
To the left of the front door, about a third of the downstairs is dedicated to children’s books, and quite a lot of them, everything from picture books to chapter books and YA titles, a very strong assortment, likely due to the number of vacationing kiddos they need to appease! Throughout the rest of the downstairs I found islands of the newest fiction and nonfiction, mystery, poetry, history, general fiction, and a modest amount of discount titles, many of which were uncorrected proofs of novels from the late 1980s, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It was fun to pick through even if I didn’t grab anything this trip.
They have a bright and cozy area upstairs, with alcoves and aisles dedicated to all sorts of nonfiction—cooking and food, gardening and crafts, design and architecture, and another discount book section packed with titles from all over the shop, fiction, nonfiction, kids, you name it. It seems like a nice place for events (they had a couch and some comfy chairs) and it looked like someone lives up there too, as the hallway to the bathroom looked like it led into a house, and the bathroom was definitely a personal one with a shower and cabinets, so don’t go wandering or snooping too far up there, okay gang?
All in all, Bartleby’s is a fun shop for a fun crossroad town, and if you go you’ll enjoy making an afternoon of wandering the aisles and the sidewalks beyond. There are other used book shops in town I didn’t get a chance to visit, but that just gives me something extra to explore next time.
Atmosphere — A bright and busy bookstore focusing on new titles and children’s books, set in a bustling vacation village in beautiful southern Vermont.
Quality — The books are new and top quality, although there are some older uncorrected proofs you can sift through as well. Some of the discounted books upstairs were clearly used, but that’s no strike.
Quantity — There’s a solid amount of books in here, with two floors and plenty of corners and nooks to explore.
Diversity — The diversity is there, with enough in each section of fiction and nonfiction to keep you going, although I don’t recall much true crime, horror, or sci-fi. It’s probably there and I missed it. Plenty for kids too.
Affordability — New books at new book prices, although there are a couple discount sections to ease the burden on your wallet.
Amenities — Couches, chairs, tables, and friendly staff, and I saw people making use of them all. Plus it’s centered among a bunch of cafes and other shops, so you’re not far from comfort.
Location — Located near the four corners in downtown Wilmington, right on Route 9 between Bennington and Brattleboro.
Customer Service — Very polite staff who were chatting with a lot of guests when I was there.
Overall — This is just the kind of shop a small town needs out in the middle of Vermont, perfect for those passing through, those living nearby, or those vacationing on the slopes in need of an afternoon in town. They have a little bit of everything and the shop has a cheery, bright feel. Stop in!