Bookworm: Wharton coffee shop, bookstore provides community haven
July 24, 2013 at 2:24 a.m.
A good bookstore can be known by its smell - paper, vanilla, wooden shelves and, if you're lucky, coffee beans. I stumbled upon this heavenly combination this week in Wharton.
Driving up to the Milam Street Coffee Shop and Wall2Wall Words Used Books at 200 W. Milam St. in Wharton, I was beckoned inside by numerous colorful signs for coffee and books.
Upon entering, I was delighted by a spacious seating area bordered by a large chalkboard covering the wall. Chalk is provided for children and adults to doodle with as they wish.
Toys are piled nearby to keep the little ones busy while Mom or Dad gets a coffee or browses the bookshelves. Bright flowers adorn each table, and a little nook with a couch and a plush reading chair is tucked to the side for those that want to curl up for a longer stay.
The book selection is not huge, but the shelves of fiction include a wide range of authors such as Joanne Fluke, Dan Brown, Italo Calvino, Stieg Larsson and Dean Koontz, among others. The smaller sections highlight area authors, children's books, romance, cookbooks and nonfiction. All the books, unless specially priced, are $2 to $4 a piece.
Milam Street Coffee Shop and Wall2Wall Words Used Books opened July 1, 2010. Linda King, 57, and her husband, Carl King, 65, of Wharton, started the coffee shop bookstore after Linda opened a little spot in another area shop, Bohemian Rhapsody, for locals to trade books. The trading was so popular that they thought Wharton could use a bookstore, so they opened one.
Today, the coffee shop bookstore is a space that locals utilize for all sorts of activities. "We have tea parties; ladies come to knit their prayer shawls together; different clubs and organizations have meetings here, and we host book signings." Carl said.
On every fourth Friday, the shop is filled with music and revelry by The Java Jam Band. The shop features area musicians accompanied by potluck-style meals (everyone brings a dish to share) and door prizes. "People just come and join in - from bagpipes to banjos. It's whoever shows up," Linda said.
The baked treats, pies, sandwiches and other edibles at the coffee shop are supplied for purchase by Junior's Smokehouse, but Linda brews and blends the coffee herself. "It's better than Starbucks at a better price," Linda said with a laugh.
More than the books or coffee, though, the Kings opened the shop for the community itself. "We wanted to make a place for people to meet and visit with friends," Carl said. "And we're having a lot of fun," Linda chimed in with a smile.
So whether you happen to be driving by or need a day trip to enjoy fresh eats and cheap reads, Milam Street Coffee Shop and Wall2Wall Words Used Books is a great destination that isn't too far away and feels a lot like home.