Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Biancabella, books & bliss at Becky’s bookshop October 30, 2017


PRINCESS BIANCABELLA first drew me to the business along Milaca’s main drag. Stretched out atop carpet next to stacks of books in the front window display area, the calico cat appeared blissfully content. Not even my photographic efforts disturbed her.








The scene delighted me—this bookstore cat in one window, a vintage typewriter in another and a creative OPEN sign crafted from a book and propped outside Bexter Book & Copy.



It’s not often anymore that you find an independent bookstore, especially in a town the size of Milaca with not quite 3,000 residents. This shop, which opened about a year ago, anchors a corner of the downtown business district in an historic building. And it appears the owner, Rebecca Rittenour, is working hard to make her business a success. She not only sells new and used books, but also offers hometown copy services and engages her patrons via a Mystery Book Club, creative in-store displays and more.







I especially like her artistic vignettes that encourage folks to shop local. I didn’t speak much with Becky other than to greet her, ask for permission to photograph and praise her store. But I got the sense, both from wandering the bookshop and from reading the Bexter website and Facebook page, that she truly holds a passion for books and for sharing her love and knowledge with others. That’s always the benefit of shopping local—excellent customer service from a passionate shopkeeper.





Milaca is fortunate to have an independent bookstore with books tucked into open drawers, filed onto shelves and showcased in artful ways.



On my quick stop in town, this bookshop charmed me with its vivid chartreuse walls, homey character and resident princess cat.


TELL ME: Do you have a favorite independent bookstore? If yes, what delights you and draws you to this bookshop?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Biancabella, books & bliss at Becky’s bookshop”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Every bookstore needs a resident cat. I have been to my share that have just that and it makes it even better. My favorite book store in Brevard is Highland Books (they have a resident dog) and I love them because they promote all the local authors, have author chat times and other featured events as well as having an entire section devoted to Ten Thousand Villages products . The owners are amazing examples of how to make a small town business work and they are always so receptive to ideas and requests. Your find was a nice one –I love the atmosphere that is reflected in your pictures.

  2. Valerie Says:

    I do love bookstores but I admit I don’t often buy books at them (I use the library a lot.) We so have a great, independent bookstore in Northfield called Con-tent.

    Have you ever been to the Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis? A great children’s bookstore with cats roaming and other various animals for the kids to see, along with an amazing assortment of books.

    When we were in Portugal we visited the Bertrand Bookstore in Lisbon, the oldest running bookstore in the world…started in 1732. When I found out that it was in Lisbon I made sure it was on our list of things to do while we were there. It was interesting and wonderful to see- but there were no cats!

    • I cannot even fathom a bookstore open for that long. I, too, would have added that to the must-see list. What a great opportunity for you to visit.

      Like you, I get most of my reading material from the library. But I do appreciate bookstores and buy from them occasionally.

      Just a heads up. The Local Authors Fair in the Great Hall at Buckham Memorial Library is set fro 6 – 7 p.m. Thursday, November 9. I’ll be there displaying my work, chatting with folks and selling copies of Fine Lines, The Talking Stick, Volume 26, in which five of my pieces are published.

      • Valerie Says:

        I had the November 9th date on my calendar but now I will be out of town…I’m sorry to miss your book signing. I am meeting dear friend of mine in WI for a few days…the first anniversary of her oldest son’s death is nearing.

      • Oh, I’m so glad you can be there for your friend. That is so incredibly thoughtful and kind. I totally understand why you can’t make the author fair.

  3. melirey96 Says:

    I love bookstores! That cat is so adorable! The only bookstore I have near me is Barnes and noble. But what I really wish I had was those old bookstores where you can find those really old good books. I visit the library a lot with my son and when I can I head to the nearest Barnes and noble.

  4. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Love that cat! There is a bookstore in downtown St. Paul called Subtext Books. I took some out-of-town guests there over the summer and we got into the greatest discussions about current events with one of the owners. The books store is small and cozy and the woman we spoke with was welcoming and fun. I haven’t been back, but will when it’s time to shop for gifts for the holidays! It’s a fabulous place. I also spend a fair amount of time at Common Good Books on Snelling and Grand in St. Paul – Garrison Keillor’s bookstore. The staff there are wonderful. And there you have it – my two favorite independent bookstores.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Wow what a great place. I love the kitty! Great use of an empty drawer to display books

  6. treadlemusic Says:

    Where ever we go/travel, we look up book shops. I love the coziness that most exude. Always a time of slowly gazing on all the volumes contained on the shelves just begging to be opened and caressed by gentle fingers slipping under the next page in anticipation of the next revelation. How CAN a “Nook”/e-reader ever compare……THAT is the question!!!!! (I know, I know, there is a place for the tech convenience, but……………)

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