Our new site is here!

If you’re seeing this post, you should just need to clear your browser cache (or wait a while) to get our brand-new full commerce website. It has a whole new look. We’re carrying most of the content across from this one, but adding staff picks, bestsellers, event pages, a calendar, a special section for authors, a list of our member/owners with published books, shopping cart, wishlist, and much, much more.

While you wait for the new site to go live, please feel free to visit us in the store, or give us a call if you have any questions. We are open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

This House of Books
224 N. Broadway
Billings, MT 59101
406-534-1133

Build This House!

book-group-contest-2016-09

Help build our member-owner base in the bookstore cooperative! Compete with other book clubs for awards and prizes.

Each book club that registers and purchases at least one share in the cooperative will receive a free cup of tea and a 10% in-store discount on your next reading group book.

The grand prize will be awarded to the book club that invests the highest total dollar amount in the bookstore cooperative.

The grand prize includes a 15% discount on any purchases made in This House of Books or on our website. This applies to each and every member of the winning book club! That means, for one full calendar year, you will get a discount on books, tea, games, stuffed animals, and gifts! And did we mention discounted books?

The grand prize also includes a private tea party/brunch with Montana author Scott McMillion. Scott is the author of Mark of the Grizzly, bear consultant to the movie The Revenant, editor of Montana Quarterly Magazine, and editor of the book Montana, Warts and All.

Your book club will dine on fine refreshments and bear claws, our choice selection of tea, and have the opportunity to chat intimately with one of our region’s most celebrated authors.

How To Play:

  1. Register your book group’s name and members’ names by emailing Gary@ThisHouseOfBooks.com
  2. Designate a coordinator for your group. The coordinator will turn in share purchase agreements and checks to This House of Books. Or your group may purchases shares online at ThisHouseOfBooks.com.
  3. Competition ends October 1, 2016. Winners will be announced in early October.

 

Putting down the hardwood

With everything moved off to one side of the building (or downstairs to the storage room and office), we were ready to commence with putting in the floor. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, our goal is to build a store with a Prohibition-era Billings motif, and that meant getting rid of the carpet and putting in real oak floors.

The last of the demolition work involved removing two faux pillars against the southeast wall of the building. Thanks to volunteer John Felton for helping Gwen and I with that project!
The last of the demolition work involved removing two faux pillars against the southeast wall of the building. Thanks to volunteer John Felten for helping Gwen and me with that project!
The installation crew hard at work laying the floor on the northwest side of the building.
The installation crew hard at work laying the floor on the northwest side of the building. Once that side was done, we had to move everything from the unfinished side to the finished side.
The floor approaches the southeast wall; you can see where the fake pillars were. The outline on the floor on the left (against the unpainted wall) is where the staircase will go downstairs. The angled cuts at the far right are going against the new bathroom wall.
The floor approaches the southeast wall; you can see where the fake pillars were. The outline on the floor on the left (against the unpainted wall) is where the staircase will go downstairs. The angled cuts at the far right are going against the new bathroom wall.
Here's how all of the new stuff is coming together. The new floor, the freshly-stained bookshelves, and the freshly-painted walls.
Here’s how all of the new stuff is coming together. The new floor, the freshly-stained bookshelves, and the freshly-painted walls.

Setting up downstairs and clearing the floor

We have to get everything cleared out of the way on half the floor so that flooring installation can commence tomorrow.

Over 6,000 pounds of oak flooring waiting to be installed, starting TOMORROW!
Over 6,000 pounds of oak flooring waiting to be installed, starting TOMORROW!

A lot of things can be shuffled off to the other side of the store, but we decided this was as good a time as any to start setting up the downstairs space.

First, we need some storage. These shelves give us a starting point, but there's lots of room for boxes down here, too. The freezer is for food inventory.
First, we need some storage. These shelves give us a starting point, but there’s lots of room for boxes down here, too. The freezer is for food inventory.
Next up: a break area for the employees with a mini-fridge and microwave. We want happy employees!
Next up: a break area for the employees with a mini-fridge and microwave. We want happy employees!
And an office area finishes off the downstairs. That's Gwen's desk on the left, Gary's on the right. Only about half of the office stuff has actually been moved in.
And an office area finishes off the downstairs. That’s Gwen’s desk on the left, Gary’s on the right. Only about half of the office stuff has actually been moved in.

Now that we have a whole bunch of stuff hauled off the sales floor, we can move all of the rest of it off to one side and let the flooring guys get started tomorrow morning. Here’s the last picture before turning off the lights and going home:

Look at all that empty space!
Look at all that empty space!

Staining Parties

When This House of Books acquired the assets of Red Lodge Books & Tea, we got a lot of bookshelves. I suppose that’s to be expected for a bookstore. The decór in Red Lodge was all rustic light wood, mostly with raw pine and cedar. To fit with the look of the new store, those light pine shelves needed to get darker, as we did at the first of our staining parties today.

We had volunteers wandering in all day, some putting in a few hours of staining and sanding time, and others spending a good chunk of their day. With 28 fixtures and hundreds of individual shelves, there was a lot of staining to do, and the party will continue tomorrow and Monday.

Stain-before and after
Before and after. Some people pay extra for that “distressed” look, but we built it ourselves!
Stain-Craig
Craig Huisenga works on a fixture.
Stain-Against paint
The new color works really well with our blue walls.

The blueing of the walls

We’ve ripped out the carpet; we’ve painted the ceiling. It’s time for the walls! Time to get rid of those drab beiges and color this place up. Once again, we had a great collection of volunteers to make things happen: and many of them came back for the second coat the next day!

We chose teal for the walls to splash some color in with our earthtones. This shade was inspired by the sky colors on the cover of "This House of Sky."
We chose teal for the walls to splash some color in with our earthtones. This shade was inspired by the sky colors on the cover of “This House of Sky.”
When our board members show up to help, they bring their kids! One board member; many helpers!
When our board members show up to help, they bring their kids! One board member; many helpers!
Here's how the teal walls go with the chocolate brown ceiling. Everything looks a little lighter with the camera flash.
Here’s how the teal walls go with the chocolate brown ceiling. Everything looks a little lighter with the camera flash.
Here's our sample piece of the wood flooring held up against the wall.
Here’s our sample piece of the wood flooring held up against the wall.

Dealing with the Ceiling

We know the white drop ceiling doesn’t fit that 1920’s Montana look that we’re after. We also know that we don’t have the budget to remove it, paint all of the exposed ductwork, and replace the lights. So we came up with a compromise: paint that ceiling dark brown, which virtually makes it disappear.

Luckily, we have the perfect color in our store's palette.
Luckily, we have the perfect color in our store’s palette.
It took a group of us the better part of an afternoon to get the ceiling masked for the painters. Here, they're just getting started in that back corner.
It took a group of us the better part of an afternoon to get the ceiling masked for the painters. Here, they’re just getting started in that back corner.
A fire truck? Yeah, the painters set off the building's fire alarm by accident and the Billings Fire Department responded. It's the first time that alarm has gone off, and it took a while to get it turned off and emergency batteries replaced.
A fire truck? Yeah, the painters set off the building’s fire alarm by accident and the Billings Fire Department responded. It’s the first time that alarm has gone off, and it took a while to get it turned off and emergency batteries replaced.
Mission accomplished: That color works perfectly for the ceiling.
Mission accomplished: That color works perfectly for the ceiling. Just wait until we paint those walls!