When I moved to downtown Chelsea in 2015, I was thrilled to find that it had its own small bookshop, Serendipity Books, located on Middle Street in downtown Chelsea. In January of this year, Serendipity moved, but (to my great relief) remains on Middle Street, just on the other side of Main Street. Its owner, Michelle Tuplin, became the sole owner of Serendipity Books in 2017. For about two years prior, Michelle co-owned the store with her friend Lucy Silverio, before Lucy stepped away to be able to spend more time with out-of-town family. Serendipity has been in Chelsea since 1985, initially set up as a paperback exchange ( i.e., bring in ten books, take out ten books). Now, in addition to selling used books, the shop has accounts with multiple publishers, bringing in new books on the release day. Serendipity Books carries a diverse selection, including literary fiction, young adult fiction, children’s books, mystery, poetry, biography, spirituality/religion, and history. The books on the front display pull me in; the owner seems to know all the hot topics and authors of the moment. It is difficult for me to leave without buying at least one book!
Local bookstores remain an essential resource for communities, even in the age of Amazon and other major retailers. Serendipity exemplifies this by providing fun and educational opportunities and resources for all ages.. Recently, Serendipity resumed storytime events for children. This past winter, my husband and I took our two-year-old daughter to their first Storytime event (at least since the pandemic started). The featured book was The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. I was a bit apprehensive, unsure how my toddler would behave, but the small and intimate space was welcoming and soothing. A space in the children’s section was set up for visitors to sit and listen. Afterward, children had the opportunity to re-enact the story with a scenic backdrop and stick puppets. Each child received a gift bag with stickers, temporary tattoos, and a paper crown. Naturally, we also purchased a few books (our daughter couldn’t resist grabbing books off the shelf and even slapped a sticker on the front cover of one). Another storytime is scheduled for August 6th at 10 am, ,and will feature two books by Jessie Sima, Not Quite Narwhal and Perfectly Pegasus!
Serendipity also serves Chelsea’s adult population in many ways. It offers a monthly book club and writing workshops for adults. Michelle, a published author herself, finds it fascinating how her life as a writer has intersected with her life as a bookstore owner. Her high curation level shows her advantage as both a bookseller and a writer. Throughout the store are handwritten cards reviewing books, and the website has a page of staff recommendations. Chelsea High School procures many books through Serendipity, and Serendipity also makes deliveries to nearby retirement communities. When Michelle told me this, my mind recalled one of my grandmothers who lived her final years at Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC). During this time, she read stacks of books from CRC’s library. I was amazed that Serendipity probably supplied some of them. Serendipity also participates in the Midwest Literary Walk, which brings authors to Chelsea each year to discuss their inspiration and writing process and perform short readings of their work. This past spring featured New York Times bestselling authors Don Winslow, Ashley C. Ford, and former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins.
I was thrilled to hear that Serendipity Books received the Certificate of Congressional Recognition in May “for receiving the 2021 Small Business Leadership Award from the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.” It is well deserved based on everything I have heard about and experienced myself. I am confident that Serendipity will continue to be a beacon for the city of Chelsea.
Serendipity Books is located at 108 E. Middle St., Chelsea, MI 48118, and online at https://serendipity-books.com/.