- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

PLAINVILLE, Mass. (AP) - Furniture at the An Unlikely Story bookstore in downtown Plainville is made from fishing boats smashed during the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia.

The floor comes from a candy factory in Boston. Bookcases are made from old printing blocks and buildings from a baseball camp owned by Red Sox legend Ted Williams. The third floor will have a statue of the cartoon character Scrooge McDuck that was once owned by Michael Jackson.

“Everything in the store has to tell a story,” owner Jeff Kinney, author of the Wimpy Kid book series, said as he toured his new building that will open this weekend.

The combined bookstore-coffee shop occupies a corner of South and Bacon streets in the downtown area. It was formerly the site of Falk’s Market and other businesses for more than 150 years.

The new building, a stunning colonial-style, three-story structure that now dominates downtown, is aimed at being more than a business, Kinney said. The hope is it will become a meeting place for neighbors to stay connected.

“A lot of writers think we’re making a statement about independent bookstores here. We are making a statement about community,” he said.

Kinney and his wife Julie have spared no expense in building their statement about community.

They have used so much repurposed wood and energy-efficient materials in the construction that they believe the building will earn a rare gold certification for environmental soundness.

There are unique touches everywhere.

Flying books hang from the ceiling above the adult book section. They point the direction toward Harry Potter broomsticks and a snitch flying above the children’s section.

Decorative signs that ring the top of the wall of the first floor are replicas of the signs that through the years adorned the outside of Falk’s Market, the building that preceded An Unlikely Story.

There are signs for IGA Stores, Plainville Public Market, A. Emerson Cash Market, and General Store, among others.

“Part of it is aesthetics. Part of it is for the fun of it. Part of it is for the stories,” Kinney said of the special touches.

The second floor of the building is a large, handsome meeting room with a stage that Kinney said can be used for community theater, yoga classes, lectures or meetings.

The third floor will be his studio, where children can occasionally catch a glimpse of him at work, surrounded by props from his Wimpy Kid movies.

The old Falk’s Market Kinney has replaced was an icon of downtown Plainville for decades. Long-time residents say it was built about the time of the Civil War.

It was originally located on the other side of South Street, and then moved.

The building had a distinctive style with a coppola on top and porch and stairs leading to the road in front.

But, it had long been neglected and fell badly into disrepair.

“It’s a landmark, but it’s an ugly landmark,” historic commission Chairwoman Barbara Parmenter said when the building was sold.

Residents complained it was an eyesore and a scar on the entire downtown.

Kinney and his wife bought it for $300,000. The sale was announced in early 2012.

They thought they could restore it, but engineers told them the building was not salvageable. The foundation was crumbling and support beams were rotted.

Demolition of the old building and construction of the new one took longer than anticipated.

An adjacent home had to be purchased and razed to create parking space. Water flooded the hole dug for a new foundation and it had to be pumped out.

“Three years ago, it was Falk’s Market. Two years ago, it was a puddle in the ground. One year ago, it was a steel frame,” Kinney joked.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Friday. There will be a “soft opening” of the store Saturday at 9 a.m.

Wednesday afternoon, the staff was being trained in how to make coffee.

The only question left is whether an independent bookstore- even one in a beautiful building -can thrive in the downtown of a small town.

“We’ve got the right feel. We’ve got the right staff. We’ve got the right books. Now, we just need the people,” Kinney said.


Information from: The (Attleboro, Mass.) Sun Chronicle, https://www.thesunchronicle.com

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