Happy Birthday, Brilliant Books!

Brilliant Books storefront, with two blue and white flags and a pride flag.We can hardly believe it—Brilliant Books has been in Traverse City for ten whole years!  It's been absolutely wonderful being a part of this community, and we love finding opportunities to give back to the people and organizations around us.

Over our years, we've worked with local nonprofits like Remain in Touch to support their work.  We've held book fairs and school events.  We've donated to organizations ranging from the Grass River Nature Center to the Children's Museum.  Plus, our online sales have brought a significant amount of money into this state and area, bolstering local economies.

Our location has been a significant part of our success this far.  We're part of a vibrant downtown culture in a growing city.  And then there's our storefront: a beautiful, centrally-located location with a long history.

The storefront at 118 E Front St has housed a number of businesses across a number of industries.  It's held Peteryl Drugs, Stewart Zacks, Woolworth's, and, right before Brilliant Books moved in, an art gallery!  To see some old photographs of the storefront, check out the timeline at the bottom of the page.

Now, after ten years, we're still selling books out of this beautiful location—an accomplishment that wouldn't have been possible without many people, especially this past year.

In February 2020, we signed a long term lease that raised our rent 25%.  Business was reliable and we were confident we'd be able to pay the increased rent.  But then, the pandemic hit and our doors closed.

Still, we made the determination to fight and not to fold.  To keep everyone employed, no matter what.   And we're still fighting, thanks to the tenacity of many people!  Our incredible staff invented ways to work remotely and succeed.  Publishers extended us additional credit.  Our customers came through and drove us on, exceeding our goal of hitting $100k in sales in May.  And our landlords agreed to postpone the new lease for a year.  We could not be more grateful to everyone who has played their part in ensuring Brilliant Books is still here.

But now, starting this month, our rent is increasing by 25%.

And while our door are open (a welcome improvement from last year), our staff shortages make it impossible for us to be open more than five days a week.

Just as we were determined to make it through the unknown of the pandemic, we are determined to prevail here.  Running a bookstore is tough enough in the best of times, and these are not the best of times. 

We are determined to remain here for you.

Thank you for ensuring that we do.


Other than buying books, how can you show your support?

Get a Gift Certificate

Buy Brilliant Books Monthly

Matriculate in a Membership

Acquire an Audiobook (or several!)

Or stop by the store this weekend to grab a new title—and celebrate our decade in Traverse City!  We've got door prizes, grab bags for kids, and so much more.

Event Details


Brilliant Books Through the Ages

Click on the images below to explore the past of E Front Street.  Can you find our storefront?

Black and white photograph of a snowy Front Street, with people standing outside
Front Street, 1880

Black and white photograph of a highly decorated Front Street
Front Street 1898

Black and white photograph of Front Street, with horses and buggies
Front Street ca. 1900

Color illustration of Front Street, with horses and buggies
Front Street 1909

Color illustration of Front Street, with early cars
Front Street ca. 1920

Illustration of Front Street, with bright colors and early cars
Front Street ca. 1930

Black and white photograph of the Brilliant Books storefront!  Across the top of the store it reads: F. W. Woolworth Co. 5 and 10 Cent Store.
118 E Front St ca. 1930

Black and white photograph of a busy Front Street
Front Street ca. 1940

Black and white photograph of Front Street
Front Street ca. 1940

The above photographs and postcards are not the property of Brilliant Books, but are presented courtesy of the Traverse Area District Library's Local History Collection and the Traverse Area Historical Society.


Finally, we want to say thank you.

Ultimately, it's customers like you that have made it possible for us to keep doing what we love: sharing books with the world.  Thank you for being a part of our story so far, for making our first ten years in Traverse City so wonderful.

Here's to the next ten.