New Whitewater bookstore features unique look

The Book Teller to celebrate grand opening April 6

Brenda Echeverria, Arts & Rec Editor

Behind the large, heavy glass doors of an old historic city bank sits The Book Teller, Whitewater’s newest used book and hand-crafted gift store.

It is located on West Main Street and will be having a ribbon cutting and open house event at 1 p.m. April 6 to celebrate.

Karen McCulloch, the lead artist at The Book Teller, said the entire bookstore is community focused and simply hopes to increase retail interest in the downtown area.

They hope to be able to bring people in by providing the perfect ambiance for community members to enjoy.

The store is filled with books, art and a little bit of history.

“This place really got started because Kristen Burton recognizes that Whitewater really has so much to offer,” said McCulloch.

“So this is all to drive traffic downtown in an effort to outreach. We’re not trying to make a million dollars in this endeavor by any means.”

The bookstore was founded by Kristen Burton, the Outreach Operations Manager at the university’s College of Business and Economics, early this year and has been open to the public since February. It offers a wide range of used books, a variety of handcrafted gifts made by local artists and a unique space to sit and relax.

McCulloch estimates that the building was built around 1863 and was the Commercial and Saving Bank in 1914 until the bank outgrew the space and moved to a new building in 1975. Since then the building has been largely unoccupied except for a few years when the Whitewater Chamber of Commerce occupied it.

Today, the architecture remains in tact and offers the public a view into the past. At the front of the bookstore are vintage-style teller windows.

“Sadly the teller windows are not original to this bank but they were original to some bank,” McCulloch said.

The original windows were bulletproof but have since been replaced. However, there are still large spikes running across the top that were used to deter bank robbers from climbing over in the 30s and 40s when bank robberies were common.

The bank’s original vault is still intact and open to the public. It now stores science fiction, thrillers, horror and mystery books that people can browse through when they enter the store.

At the moment there are several artist who are also working with the bookstore to sell their handcrafted gifts. Some of the products in the store include art, clothing, candle holders, natural soap and jewelry to name a few. McCulloch also said there will be a few more vendors joining them before the grand opening as well.

Richard Ehrenberg is a Whitewater resident and current vendor at the bookstore. He makes handcrafted candle holders from tree branches he gathers from his own yard.

“The purpose isn’t really to make a lot of money like Karen said. It’s to provide something to the community, so it’s been fun,” said Ehrenberg.

Marie Koch, executive director at Discover Whitewater, said she remembers when the building was housed by the Whitewater Chamber of Commerce and thinks it is great that it is being occupied again.

“I think it’s definitely a great thing for the community. It gives people a place to relax and reason to come downtown,” said Koch.