Lake Life Trendsetter: Amy Erickson | Bookstore Owner, Mother, Traveler

Amy Erickson is a wife, mother of three amazing kids (Alex, Anika, and Jake), and owner of Bluebird Books—an independent bookstore in Detroit Lakes, MN.

Photos By Josiah Kopp

In partnership with the Holmes Art Cellar, Amy’s bookstore also displays and sells local art. Read more about this partnership on page 38!

About Amy

Amy Erickson is a wife, mother of three amazing kids (Alex, Anika, and Jake), and owner of Bluebird Books—an independent bookstore in Detroit Lakes, MN. Amy has been a voracious reader for as long as she can remember and has dreamed of owning a bookstore for nearly as long. After working as a teacher and in the hotel business, then being a stay-at-home mom for 15 years, she and her family decided to take the plunge and open Bluebird Books. Amy and her husband Jed are part of the ownership group of Corazón Cabo Beach Resort. She is also the Director of the Lakes Area Imagination Library and is currently serving her second term on the Detroit Lakes School Board.

Some of Amy’s happiest moments in her life have involved browsing in well-curated, comfortable bookstores and that same feeling is what she strives to provide at Bluebird Books. In our hectic world, her goal is to provide a “third space” away from home and the office—with comfortable seating and a relaxed atmosphere—where you are welcome to be surrounded by books and be present in the moment.

Amy’s Favorite Lake Area Events & Activities

Tuesdays in the Park

“Every Tuesday from June 6 to August 29 at 7 p.m., there is a concert in the Detroit Lakes City Park Bandshell. From the Lakes Area Community Concert Band to Eric Reitan to Doc and The Scrubs, there is a little bit of something for everyone. And if you go at 5:30, you can take advantage of the Picnic in the Park, which is a fundraiser for the Fuller Center for Housing!”

Music on The Mountain

“Every year Detroit Mountain Recreation Area (DMRA) hosts a fundraising concert. This year’s July 1 concert featured the Eli Young Band and Russell Dickerson with special guest John Morgan. It’s always a ton of fun! Also, at DMRA on Thursday nights from June 15 through August 10, you’ll find Detroit Mountain Summer Nights with live music, open mic night, chair lift rides, burgers and brews, and cornhole tournaments. There’s always something going on at The Mountain!”

Art in the Park

“Held in the City Park next to the City Beach is the annual Art in the Park, where you can find a wide array of handcrafted treasures, including jewelry, pottery, furniture, original works of art, and more. This year’s Art in the Park will take place on Sunday, July 30.”

Trucks and Tunes

“Also in the City Bandshell, but on Fridays from 5-8 p.m., Project 412 brings live music and food trucks to the DL City Park. The concerts are free and feature performers like Martin Zellar and the always energetic and entertaining Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome. It is held every Friday from June 16 through July 24.”

And Other DL Favorites!

“And, of course, all of the DL favorites! The Street Faire at the Lakes, the Northwest Water Carnival, the Becker County Fair, WE Fest, and Polar Fest are the biggest draws to our area and our family loves and attends every single one! Though I’m a little ashamed to say I don’t do the Polar Plunge during Polar Fest, because I’m a big baby when it comes to the cold.”

Amy’s Favorite Lakes Area Bars & Restaurants

Detroit Lakes VFW

“Full confession…my favorite bar is the VFW. It doesn’t have a great view like Hub 41 or Lakeside, but it does have cheap drinks, a friendly atmosphere, meat raffles, bingo, and horse races…..what’s not to like? Plus, their gaming proceeds benefit Veteran’s causes and other area nonprofits.”

Northside Bar

“I love breakfast at the Northside. Not the bar side, but in the attached cafe. Or in the bar. I’m not here to judge. Sometimes you just need a hearty breakfast!”

Toad Lake Store

“Saturday night prime rib at Toad Lake Store is unbeatable. Call ahead for a reservation, they run out fast. You’ll need a GPS to find it, but it’s a nice drive with some beautiful scenery.”

Mi Cartagena Cafe

“Mi Cartagena Cafe has amazing coffee and Kerlis is as sweet as can be. La Barista’s coffee game is strong too, and they have great lunch and breakfast options. I love their avocado toast!”


“Roasted is right next door to the Bluebirds Books and has great wood fire pizzas and many other delicious options. They also have coffee and some tasty bakery selections.”

Amy’s Entertainment & Recreation Recommendations

#1 Spend time on the lake.

“Living on the lake definitely has advantages, as we can hop on the pontoon and cruise over to Long Bridge or Zorbaz, which we do often in the summer. Detroit Lake can be very busy, but my daughter and I also like to take the pontoon out on a quiet day and just put the anchor down and read in the middle of the lake. It’s very peaceful.”

#2 Enjoy the Water Carnival parade.

“One of the things I look forward to most is the Northwest Water Carnival parade. It’s such a fun event and most places don’t put on such a huge parade anymore. It makes me feel like a kid again.”

#3 Go tubing on the Ottertail River.

“Tubing the Ottertail River is a really fun, off-thebeaten-path way to spend the afternoon with the kids. There are two places—K&K Tubing and Charlie’s Tubing—that rent tubes, right on Highway 34.”

#4 Jam to the best country artists at WE Fest!

To learn more about the exciting things happening at WE Fest this year, check out page 26!

“My husband has been going to WE Fest since they started in 1983 and we wouldn’t miss it. It’s great to hang out with friends and listen to music and be able to do it in our own hometown!”

#5 Check out the city’s unique businesses.

“Anyone visiting Detroit Lakes should definitely pay a visit to Nature’s Embrace Soap Company. We have a wonderful soap in our store that she makes just for us, but everyone should experience the heavenly scent of her store. Also, some friends of ours opened a shop called Spice Boys which is a summer BBQ essential stop. If you’re going to the Farmer’s Market, look for Doughing Crazy. My kids devour her sourdough pretzel buns (and okay, I do too)… but get there early for those.”

Amy, her son Alex, and their dog Deacon spend a lot of time at Bluebird Books—a true testament to the family’s support of and belief in the business.

Amy’s Perfect Lake Day

A perfect lake day for me would mean that it’s a Saturday and I have family in town. I come from a huge family—I’m the youngest of nine kids—and we often have visitors in the summer. We’d start our day by hitting the Farmer’s Market in People’s Park to buy some breakfast treats, then head to Shady Hollow Flea Market to browse and people-watch. I love to stop in at Patina White to see what new creative thing Beth has concocted.

We’d head downtown and do a little shopping, at Bluebird Books, of course, but our other favorites are Vintage and Vogue and Red Willow. The kids always want to stop at Best Pets to see what kind of new, exotic creatures they’ve got, and since someone always seems to forget a swimsuit, so we’d probably stop at Lakes Sport Shop to pick one up.

Then we’d head to Central Market for some snacks, hop on the pontoon and go for a cruise. We’d stop at the sandbar for a bit, do a little fishing, order pizza from Zorbaz and eat a late lunch on the boat. Then we’d come back to our house, make some s’mores and watch the sunset.

We’re lucky to be able to do all of these things and return to our house, but the great thing about DL is that there are many places you can stay, such as The Lodge on Lake Detroit and the Holiday Inn, and have the same “lake life” experience.

Amy’s Local Products for the Perfect Lake Day

#1) Rent a pontoon from J&K Marine.

#2) Slather on some Alba Botanica sunscreen from Manna Food Co-op!

#3) Grab an assortment of growlers from Buck’s Mills Brewing.

#4) Snacks are vital, so stock up at Central Market, especially at their amazing deli.

#5) Shop the Lakeshirts Beach Shop for your new favorite hat or tee.

Amy’s Summer Beach Reads

“I am always knee-deep in the advanced reader copies that publishers send out, but I am committed to reading at least one Emily Henry book this summer, along with a few new books from my favorite authors!”

“Happy Place” by Emily Henry

“A World of Curiosities” by Louise Penny

“The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder” by David Grann

“Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann

Amy’s Local/Regional Author Recommendations

“Marcie Rendon has a great mystery series set in the area, and William Kent Krueger is a huge personal favorite of mine. My other favorite Minnesota authors are Curtis Sittenfeld, who lives in Minneapolis but doesn’t necessarily write ‘Minnesota’ books and J. Ryan Stradal, who lives in California but writes books that are quintessentially Minnesotan.”

Many of these titles are available at Bluebird Books! If you can’t make it in person, you can shop online, too, at

Marcie Rendon

Curtis Sittenfield

William Kent Krueger

Fun Fact: I went to elementary and high school in Aurora, MN—the setting of many of William Kent Krueger’s books!” – Sam Kise, Editor

J. Ryan Stradal

Q&A with Amy Erickson

Showcasing local artists through a partnership between bluebird books and the Holmes Art Cellar

Can you talk a little bit about your partnership with local artists and the Holmes Art Cellar?

So, Amy Stearns [Executive Director of Project 412] and I are in a book club. We’ve been in a book club for 12 years. I’ve known her pretty much the whole time I’ve lived here. We were talking one day when I was opening Bluebird Books, and I said that I would love to have local art in here. In the Holmes Art Cellar, they have a lot of great artwork but not a lot of people go there because it’s out of the way. It’s just hard to get people down there, basically.

One of us came up with the idea of a partnership, so now we have a contract. I told Amy that the thing that scares me is being asked to make a decision on the spot by artists about whether or not I want their piece. I said that if they could handle that part of it for me, and hang the art for me, we could split the commission. Bluebird Books takes a percentage, the Holmes Art Cellar takes a percentage, and then the artists take a majority of the money from the sale. We want the artists to make the majority of the money. It’s nice to have the option of having art in my store and give that exposure to the artists because it is different having your work in a downtown business rather than the basement of the Holmes Theater.

What’s the process of getting the art?

Carmen McCullough is in charge of the whole art cellar now. She’ll text me or call me and tell me that she’s got a couple of new artists that she wants to bring over to either replace something that we have or to add on. We’ll find a place for it, depending on the size of it. We talk about it once in a while and decide whether or not to keep pieces up or bring in new pieces. Periodically we switch stuff out. She contacts the artists or they contact her and she vets it for me.

Do you sell all the art, or is it just some of it?

Everything that we have in here on the walls is for sale, other than the Bluebird that an artist named Hans Gilsdorf did for the store.

Hear more from Hans Gilsdorf in our article about local art on page 78!

All the art hanging above the shelves is offered for sale, with a majority of the money going directly to the artist.

Why do you think it’s so important to showcase and support these local artists in your store?

Oh, just because art matters so much. A world without art is a world without beauty and happiness. Not everybody likes the same type of art, but everybody should see art. Everybody should be able to see what kind of art is out there. I also just love all different kinds of art, so I wanted it to be available. Mostly, I want artists to make a living.

This bluebird piece was created specifically for the bookstore by talented local artist Hans Gilsdorf.

Support Amy & Bluebird Books!

813 Washington Ave Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
(218) 8449208
[email protected]
Facebook | /bluebirdbooksmn
Instagram | @bluebirdbooksmn22


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