MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — For some people, reading is a hobby, but for C Kay Hinchliffe, it’s a way of life. She has worked at the Renaissance Book Store for over 40 years.
“I started working for Renaissance in January 1980 when we were still in the big building downtown,” Hinchliffe said. “You meet all kinds of people in used books. Part of the fun for me is the joy that I can give people because they come in and say I’m looking for a book and I say okay what’s the name?”
Renaissance Books is one of the only independent bookstores still standing in Milwaukee, first opening in the 1950s when its original location was downtown in a five-story building.
In 1979, it opened a location inside Mitchell International Airport, becoming the first used bookstore inside an airport in the nation.
“At the airport store, you have people coming from all over. There are people flying to Milwaukee just so they can come to the store,” Hinchliffe said.
Hinchliffe spends the majority of her time working inside the Southridge Mall in Greenfield. The store opened after downtown closed in 2018. She says the charm of the bookstore is still there even though the current location is much smaller.
“We love people. People come to support us. People come and say ‘oh, I used to shop at your store downtown. Do you still have a location at the airport?’ Yes,” Hinchliffe said.
Working at Renaissance has become a family affair. Hinchliffe’s husband, Michael, has worked at the store since the 1970s.
“Michael has worked for Renaissance since 1976 and I started working at Renaissance because he worked at Renaissance,” Hinchliffe said.
Since working there, Hinchliffe estimates she has sold more than 25,000 books and says she will work at Renaissance for as long as possible.
“We’re an endangered breed, but we’re small but fierce,” Hinchliffe said.