Dowagiac holiday business joins Little Free Library forces

DOWAGIAC — Melissa Gunn is no stranger to the world of books. While she owns her own business, Deck the Halls, which caters to one’s inner holiday spirit, a few stores down, her husband, Jeff, owns Olympia Books, which provides the community with stories.

With the couple’s love for books, it seemed like a no-brainer for them to enter the city of Dowagiac’s drawing to create a Little Free Library.

Now newly stationed on the corner of Commercial and Front streets, Gunn’s gingerbread house-themed Little Free Library welcomes visitors to downtown and encourages them to grab a book along the way.

The Pokagon Fund awarded a grant to the Little Free Libraries program to install 12 libraries throughout the three wards of Dowagiac. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians funds the Pokagon Fund. As new libraries are unveiled near businesses, in parks and at local destinations, partnerships between the designers, stewards and businesses are cultivated.

“I think they are a really great opportunity for all ages in the community,” Gunn said. “It’s a great place to be able to grab a book and drop off a book.”

Gunn said her life involves lots of books. In her formal living room at her home, four bookshelves span from the ceiling to the floor and are bursting with books.

“A lot of the books we keep are treasured gift-type books or signed editions,” Gunn said. “A lot of them are copies I have read, and then they just go back on the shelf. A Little Free Library is a great place to put the books I’ve already really enjoyed reading.”

In the back of her shop, Gunn has three boxes full of books to help restock the library. Already, she has restocked the tiny holiday-themed library three or four times. Seated behind the counter in her store, she also gets a glimpse at the foot traffic the library has welcomed.

“I would say any person that walks by under the age of 13, regardless of where they are going, who they are with or what they are doing, they stop,” Gunn said. “They open the door and look.”

A grandmother and her grandson who were walking down Front Street one day, stood out to Gunn. She said the grandson’s face lit up when he saw the Little Free Library and was encouraged to grab a story from inside.

“It was sweet to see,” she said.

When Gunn was selected out of the Little Free Library lottery, her immediate idea was to design the library into a gingerbread house.

Gunn picked up colorful paints, different colored pieces of vinyl and reached out to one of her friends, a woodworker, to carve out details for the gingerbread house. The door and fireplace both have 3D effects. Gunn also had a chimney added to the structure and included scalloped detailing to mimic the appearance of snow.

“I had a lot of fun doing it,” Gunn said, motioning to the silver glitter on the roof. “I knew right from the get-go I wanted to do full-on Christmas.”

Berrien County

Michigan sees more than 200 new COVID-19 deaths

Newsletter Sports

Chieftain Golf Outing still set for June 18


Decision on on-campus workouts will not be set until May 15


Niles’ The Erly talks canceled, shifted plans

Berrien County

Spectrum Health Lakeland reminds citizens that care for assault victims is still available


While navigating uncharted territory, Rotarians reflect on historic events that have halted weekly meetings


Silver Creek Township looks to road improvements, pays bills

Leader Columnists

NELDON: Despite changes, our mission remains the same

Berrien County

Leader Publications changing print cycle, remaining source for regular news updates

Berrien County

State looks to increase public awareness of meals program for seniors

Berrien County

‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order extended to April 30

Newsletter Sports

Area youth leagues holding out hope that they can salvage a season


NIEHOFF: During the break, think about being a better sports fan


Lillian Townsley


Lehman’s Farmhouse and Brewery joins fight against COVID-19


Dowagiac seniors react to possibly missing milestones during COVID-19 pandemic


5 Mile Drive-In remains hopeful for start of season


Glen Burchfield, of Niles


John W. Pontius


WILSON: Breakfast of social distancers

Berrien County

Michigan Gateway Community Foundation on track to make awards

Berrien County

Michigan Small Business Relief Grants approved

Berrien County

Spectrum Health Lakeland receives support for COVID-19 response efforts

Brandywine HS

Abdullah earns fourth all-state honor