Highland’s newest business allows its customers to escape into a far off world of imagination while being surrounded by all the comforts of home.
The newbook store doubles as a bed-and-breakfast, with all the guest rooms pulling themes from literature.
When The Chocolate Affair decided to move from its former location at 801 9th St. in Highland to a new space on the Square, Brett and Mindy Casto bought the historic home, which was built in 1914 by Dr. Moses Tibbetts, one of the city’s longtime physicians.
“I kind of wish the chocolate was still here, but my waistline is happy it’s not,” Brett said.
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The Castos have named their new venture The Tibbetts House and will have their grand opening Sept. 6. The day will start with a ribbon cutting, with an open house to follow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Mindy said a book shop and a bed-and-breakfast go hand-in-hand.
“You find out that every individual has a unique story of their own, which kind of plays into having the bookstore here, too,” Mindy said. “You hear so many different stories in life. A person is very similar to a book. So to me, they compliment each other.”
Inside the business
While the grand opening is Sept. 6, the bookstore and the bed and breakfast are open for business now.
Inside the store, customers are greeted by a bright sunroom and book-filled walls. The shop buys, sells and trades used books, and donations are always welcome.
Games and puzzles can be found frequently scattered about the purple counter for those who might care to play. One day, Brett hopes to add on to the store, so he can sell games and host game nights.
The store is a dream come true for Brett, who is a self-published author, but it was the encouragement from his new community that drew him to pursue the dream.
“We asked around, and everybody said they really wanted a bookstore,” Brett said.
The shop also provides the foundation for the heart of the business, the bed-and-breakfast.
The inside of the bed-and-breakfast looks to be straight out of a fairytale. The walls of the inn are lined with works of art painted by the couple’s 17-year-old son, who is also named Brett. Each canvas has a special quote selected from the Castos’ favorite novels. Following the pictures will bring you upstairs to the themed bedrooms, all designed by the Castos.
The first room on the right is “The Loop,” which sports a 1940s theme that is based off of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” The room is filled with natural light and a heavy, wooden bed adorned with a blue patchwork quilt. A rocking chair waits in the corner next to unique antique pictures placed delicately on the mirrored vanity.
Traveling across the hall brings guests to London and into the fabled address 221 B Baker St., better known as the residence of a notorious detective and his trusty sidekick. The “Sherlock Holmes” inspired dwelling has a four-poster Victorian bed and various intriguing odds and ends adorning the room’s shelves. On the wall is a hand-painted silhouette of old Sherlock himself, with his famous pipe hanging out of his mouth.
The last room brings a tale of two star-crossed lovers to Highland. “West Egg” is “The Great Gatsby”-themed suite. Touches from both Jay and Daisy decorate the room. The king-sized bed has a lush, purple cover that matches the drapes. Though each room has a private bathroom, West Egg stayers are treated to a newly renovated washroom with marble floors and a jacuzzi tub.
After a good night’s sleep, guests can enjoy a special homemade breakfast, like baked apple and cinnamon French toast or the family favorite, sausage bombs.
“I look forward to getting different, unique, individual people in here,” Mindy said.
Mindy said guests who decide to stay on week nights will receive a reduced rate, and the couple provides a hero’s rate for military service members and first-responders.
“And staying in here will get you a book for free,” Brett said.
Meet the owners
- Mindy is a 19-year active-duty member of the United States Air Force. She is currently stationed at Scott Air Force Base, where she works in communications. Mindy was born in Wyoming but has lived in many places. She enjoys meeting and working with new people and hopes the bed and breakfast will add the stories of many unique strangers to their family’s tale.
- Brett is a writer, who has self-published one novel. His stories are in the science-fiction/fantasy realm, and he specializes in writing comedy. He has a passion for role-playing games and dreams of expanding his book store into a game shop. Brett works the book shop and holds the title of Mindy’s “professional chef.”
- The couple met when they were both serving in Afghanistan. Brett was a contractor for the Army, and Mindy was still working with the Air Force. After Mindy left Afghanistan, the couple had a long-distance relationship and were married shortly after Brett returned state-side. They moved to Highland from New Jersey with their son, Brett, and daughter Katie, when Mindy received her assignment at Scott. While it was Mindy’s station that brought them to Highland, the couple said it was the community that made them want to stay.