As Heather Williams walked down Main Street in River Falls about 10 years ago with her husband James, she was persistent that a bookstore would not make it in town.
James’ idea was to walk the few blocks of downtown noting all the small businesses that had been successful and what storefronts were available for a potential new book nook.
“There were eight or nine spots that were open at that point and I kept on saying, ‘See? See how they chew up those stores? It’s not ever gonna work,’” recalled Heather. “And we got to this place,” referencing 120 South Main St. where Fox Den Used Books currently resides, “And I peeked in and I said ‘that's my store.’”
Back when the building was built in 1880, it was a female owned bookstore -- the only female owned business in town, explained the Williams.
“We had felt right at home, right away and we believe that they were happy to have a bookstore back in the building,” said Heather.
In 1995, Heather and James opened Sixth Chamber Used Books on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. With the changing demographic of the area, housing prices and giants like Amazon, Sixth Chamber’s doors were closed in the early months of 2019.
But before those doors closed, Fox Den’s opened on Oct. 18, 2012. Since opening, the store has expanded from focusing on used-books to catering to every family with gifts, games and toys for all ages.
“That's where Evan came in,” said Heather. Now 16, Heather and James’ son Evan has been an inspiration behind the toys, books, activities and gifts that are placed on the shelves of Fox Den.
“Here, we can say we play all the games,” said James. “We're able to really just curate things that we think are really amazing.” It’s important to the Williams that the items in their stores be from small, family-owned businesses like themselves.
“A lot of these mom and pop companies carry specialty toys and games that they don't sell to big box stores,” said James. “And as soon as they do, we stop carrying them because the quality goes down because they have to meet the prices of the big box stores. But it's these little boutique companies that make really well made and environmentally positive things.”
One of Fox Den’s unique and beloved traditions is that of the wish list. About 10 years ago, a joyful little first grader, now in high school, came into the store and said “Heather, you know what you need? A list of all the things I want.”
And the wish list was born. Regardless of your age, you’re welcome to pick up a card and jot down all your Fox Den wishes during your trip. The store will hold onto it for you and anyone looking to purchase you a gift can use it as a guide.
For 9 years, Fox Den has been renting a space at 120 S. Main Street. But those days are coming to an end. Recently, the Williams purchased 117 S. Main Street -- right across the street from the current space. Though an exact move date has not been set, Fox Den will be in its new home by the end of January.