There are records that indicate the existence of bookstores dating back to Ancient Greece and Rome. Although these were often more like libraries than bookstores, they represent the first attempt to share and disseminate information to the masses.
Of course, the reproduction of books during that era was painstakingly slow. It wasn’t until Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century that books were able to be distributed on a large scale.
Today, libraries and bookstores are commonplace for virtually every community in the United States. Some are operated by million dollar chains like Barnes and Noble, while others represent the blood, sweat, and tears that every book lover can relate to.
Independent bookstores are often run by self-proclaimed “book nerds.” They don’t worry about expanding their empire or cornering the market; they simply want to share their appreciation for the written word. It is love, not money, which serves as their primary motivation.
If you have ever been inside Fargo’s Zandbroz Variety, you know that you stumbled into bookstore heaven. Part bookstore, part novelty shop, Zandbroz carries everything from newly published books and retro toys to clothing and home décor.
Zandbroz Variety was the brainchild of Greg Danz and his brother Jeff. The store initially opened in Sioux Falls in May of 1987. A second location in Fargo quickly followed. “I love books; I get an opportunity to be around books every day and visit with people who also enjoy books,” Greg said in a 2014 interview. “Beats the heck out of selling nuts and bolts.”
Zandbroz has managed not only to stay afloat in recent years but to thrive, despite the emergence of online and e-book competition. Although Amazon and other online platforms initially caused quite a transformation in the book world, Danz has seen a resurgence of printed books over the last five years. “The challenge is getting people to keep reading books and to support independent bookstores and local businesses,” he explained.
Zandbroz is also known for hosting a variety of literary events, especially those featuring local writers. The store is a substantial supporter of the arts, both within Downtown Fargo and throughout the entire Red River Valley. Because of their stellar reputation, securing a book reading or another artistic event at Zandbroz is considered a source of pride.
Not to be outdone by its focus on all things literary, Zandbroz also houses a unique and eclectic variety of household goods, including clothing, jewelry, organic food and beauty products, home décor, and novelty items. It is very difficult to visit one side without perusing the other. Either side, however, is a fantastic place to pick up items that enhance your personal style and add a bit of pizzazz to your life.
When is the last time you sat down with a good book (and no, I’m not talking about a movie adapted from a book)? Reading allows you entry into other worlds, and Zandbroz can be the key you are looking for. Located at 420 Broadway North, it is a retail experience like few others. Whether you’re in the mood for a good book or something to spice up your home décor, Zandbroz Variety is the place to start.
More information about Zandbroz Variety can be found at www.zandbroz.com.
By Jamee Larson