Four Eyed Frog Books has always been a popular destination for my family and me whenever we are vacationing in Sea Ranch. This independent bookstore opened up for business in Gualala, California back in 2003, and it has long since become a great neighbor in the small city. It is much smaller than your average Barnes & Noble or Borders, but its selection is still very impressive, and new releases are always available. Even if I am not intending to buy a book, I am always looking to visit the store whenever I am in town thanks to its very friendly atmosphere. Its worth it at least to watch my nieces run into the store and decide what book their grandpa can buy for them next. I also love holding up a book by Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck just to get a rise out of my parents as neither can stand them (for the record, I can’t either).
The owner of Four Eyed Frog Books is Joel Crockett who, on the store’s website, admits that he always dreamed about “owning a little store – in a small town – on the ocean.” This dream later became a reality when he and his wife Linda came to the Redwood Coast, and they knew right then and there that this was the place for them to live. Since opening, Joel’s brother Jeremy Crockett has moved into town to become a partner in the bookstore. The two have even formed their own band appropriately titled The Crockett Brothers. Their specialty is folk music, and my dad has confirmed to me that they are hilarious.
In addition, Four Eyed Frog Books has also become a place for authors to drop by and give readings of what they have written. Guests who have dropped by include Bill Broder who wrote “Taking Care of Cleo,” Charles Furey who shared World War II stories from his memoir “Going Back,” and California’s High School Poet Laureate of 2005 Lindsey Smith who gave us a sampling of her work in “Hailing The Taxi Hopefully.” Also, during the summer, the bookstore has a weekly story time for kids of all ages to attend. This should show deeply ingrained Four Eyed Frog Books is into the local culture.
The bookstore also has other items to peruse like a large number of greeting cards for any occasion. They also have Clic Reading Glasses, pocket flashlights for when you need them, dozens of toys and games, and a bunch of “cuddly” stuffed animals which some have said I am too old to buy (I beg to differ). Actually, one really good game they have to sell is Bananagrams. It’s kind of like Scrabble except that you have a whole game board to yourself to compose words as do all your opponents. This game has become a big favorite of my family, and it has given us some great times as well as frustrating moments where we get the same letter seven times and end up throwing letters across the room.
Joel has said that the goal of Four Eyed Frog Books is to be “a responsive, involved, interested and interesting community bookstore.” It is safe to say that he and his family have long since succeeded in making the store just that. The selection they offer reflects what its customers end up purchasing, and they continue to serve the town of Gualala very well. They are also very happy to place special orders for you, and they can get that book you desperately want out delivered to you just as quickly as Amazon.com can.
Taking this all into account, there is much more to this small independent bookstore than meets the eye. I will most definitely continue to support this place whenever I visit Gualala. Joel still knows my family and was quick to recognize me even though I had not been there for about a year. I very much enjoy the friendly atmosphere that he provides, and it is always a pleasure to walk through the doors. Even though I still have dozens of books waiting to be read, I always find myself buying something because leaving empty handed doesn’t feel like much of an option.
If you are ever driving through Gualala on your way to Mendocino, I strongly recommend that you check Four Eyed Frog Books out. Trust me, it is worth the time, and you will find a book you like.