Rainbow Booksellers

In the Neighborhood

Credit: Lila Aryan Photography

Rainbow Booksellers 

5704 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee    

Neighborhood: Washington Heights

Founded: In 1981 as The End of the Rainbow on West North Avenue in Wauwatosa

Owners: Joe Croze and his wife, Marye Beth

Employees: Two

Product: Children’s books

How did you and your wife decide to open a children’s bookstore?

Croze: “This used to be a different store, on North Avenue. We would bring our very young daughters here all of the time and when the owner, Jim Twelmeyer, decided to sell in 1991, he said we should buy it. We moved the store to Washington Heights in 1994. This has been much better for foot traffic; this is a wonderfully anchored neighborhood place.”

Has it been hard to keep the business going with Amazon’s presence?
“Amazon is a true competitor. Even though we have extremely limited hours (Wednesday evening and Saturdays) we have been selling at book fairs since we have opened, public and private schools, Irish Fest and other events, so that has helped.”

What sets your store apart?
“There are no other children’s book stores in the city. Young people are all about experiences for their kids, so parents of very young children use this as an experience. It is a nice value for them and for us. There is a difference between going in to a bookstore and clicking on Amazon.”

How do you choose the books you carry?
“My wife does all of that. We like ‘Clifford,’ ‘Good Night Moon’ and things you would see elsewhere. But she looks specifically for unique books that you would not find at Target. That would include multi-cultural books, beautifully illustrated books.”

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