There are myriad reasons to visit the Farmer's Market at 1105 Northside Boulevard in South Bend, a little west of Indiana University South Bend. #1 are all the fresh food options, from locally-grown produce and unpasteurized honey from local bees to Old World-style deli mozzarella to fresh-roasted coffee and dozens of loose tea varieties. #2 is the cafe, serving up hearty portions of home-style food. (If you go for breakfast, I strongly recommend the buckwheat waffle with pecans, provided you have no allergies to nuts. Come early so you can find a seat.)
Of course, if you're an inveterate bibliophile like me, you can't resist looking at the used books. Books are offered at several stalls within the Farmer's Market, alongside jewelry and other collectible items. However, there's only one Farmer's Market vendor whose name says it all: The Book Guy.
When I visited the Farmer's Market with my husband on March 11, 2014, the first thing that caught my eye about The Book Guy's stall was his collection of books about Ireland. This close to St. Patrick's Day (March 17 - a Monday this year), a great variety of vendors had St. Patrick's Day-themed displays.
When my husband and I stopped at the booth, though, I spotted an even greater treasure: a 7-volume set of vintage books by Alexandre Dumas pere. It included my personal favorite Dumas classic, The Count of Monte Cristo. The collection was incomplete, but complete collections of this particular set, the vendor said, are particularly rare. I salivated over these collectible books, perfectly reasonably priced at $75 for the set, until The Book Guy pointed out a similar item.
That item was a set of vintage Louisa May Alcott books published between 1912 and 1914. He asked for $125 for the set. If you're unfamiliar with Alcott beyond her immortal Little Women, you might like to read Graphic Classics: Louisa May Alcott. The graphic novel introduces readers to a wide variety of Alcott's writings. She had a vivid imagination for Gothic potboilers completely unlike her domestic tales of feminine life.
Having arrived at the Farmer's Market with the intention of buying only a few fruits and veggies, I walked away with only three less-sought-after volumes, three books in the "Bunnicula" series by James Howe, illustrated by Brett Helquist. These were irresistible to me not only because I loved the original Bunnicula book when I was a child, but also because my 8- and 10-year-old nieces have also read and loved these books. The Book Guy has a wide selection of picture books as well as middle grade and young adult novels.
His other specialization is illustrated classics. Today he had a wonderful old volume of The Arabian Nights. If you stop by the South Bend Farmer's Market, be sure to look for The Book Guy.
The South Bend Farmer's Market is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. all year 'round. From May to September, the market is also open Fridays from 7-2. You can call the office at (574) 282-1259.