Martha Merrell’s Books is currently owned and operated by Norm and Eve Bruce. We purchased the store in 1994 when it was being housed in a former butcher shop on Main Street. Its next address was at the Five Points on Main before we moved to our current location at 231 West Main Street as part of the Avalon Square retail space. Each move has been made to simultaneously expand the building space and the services that we can offer both to our customers and the community in general.
Waukesha’s original bookstore was the Mind Exchange, but in 1963 it was bought and renamed Martha Merrell’s. There was actually a person named Martha Merrell. She was a woman ahead of her time, graduating from Radcliffe College in 1922, serving as head librarian at the Racine Public Library and establishing the first bookstore in Racine (the original Martha Merrell’s) in 1947. Martha had a wandering spirit and traveled the world as an independent woman. She was also generous in giving back to her community. Because of this, when William Kidd of Western Publishing bought the shop from Martha in 1954, he kept her name on the door.
We have continued to recognize Martha Merrell’s community involvement as well as add to that legacy with our own accomplishments here in Waukesha. Our goal has been to be a valued resource for educators, students and readers of all ages and interests. We have also made a concerted effort to be a partner in the development of Waukesha’s downtown, helping to improve the improve the quality of life for all that we are privileged to connect with.
Both of us began our educational careers in elementary classrooms. Norm later served as principal for schools in Dodgeville, Pewaukee and West Bend before managing the bookstore fulltime. Eve has been a public library director in Sharon before stints as a media specialist in Dodgeville and New Berlin. She is currently working as a teacher/media specialist in the Hamilton School District at Woodside Elementary in Sussex along with her bookstore responsibilities.