For sale: One independent bookstore, packed with mystery

Making a quick stop
Robin Lichtblau of Burnsville, Minn., leaves Once Upon A Crime after making a purchase.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News 2011

If you love mysteries, "Once Upon a Crime" in Minneapolis is a perfect place to browse for books. You can pick up a new thriller — or you could buy the whole store.

The independent Minneapolis bookstore is now up for sale. The inventory is all mysteries, all the time, from classic Sherlock stories to modern Minnesota murder tales.

The shop, which is located just off Lyndale Avenue at West 26th Street, is hard to miss: The outline of a dead body on the sign lets you know you've arrived.

For owners Gary Schulze and Pat Frovarp, "Once Upon a Crime" is more than a store — it's where the two mystery fans met and where they married. The couple bought the store from a previous owner in 2002.

Helping customers
Once Upon A Crime owners Patricia Frovarp and Gary Shulze work with customers at the front counter of their Minneapolis bookstore.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News 2011

In their 13-year run as owners, they've hosted hundreds of events with international and local mystery authors. The couple has become such an integral part of the mystery writing community that author Reed Farrel Coleman wrote them into his "Moe Prager" series. Schulze and Frovarp appear as characters in Coleman's book "The Hollow Girl," which follows the adventures of private investigator Moe Prager.

Recent health concerns are behind the couple's difficult decision to sell the store, Schulze said. In retirement, however, one thing won't change. "We'll likely read a lot more books."

Schulze had one piece of advice for any prospective buyers.

"You have to totally love what you're doing. You're not going to get rich," Schulze said. "I've had this job as a fantasy since I was a teenager. Some 40 years later, it turned out better than I ever imagined."

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