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KK businesses cater to Potter crowd

July 26, 2007

If Harry Potter has enchanted young and old readers alike, Bay View merchants were just as excited about the prospect of hundreds of Potter fans descending on South Kinnickinnic Avenue in the late-night hours of Friday, July 20, to buy their copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

The highly anticipated book went on sale at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 21.

Next door to the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, 2262 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Babe's Ice Cream and Desserts stayed open until just after midnight to accommodate Potter enthusiasts.

Stone Creek Coffee, 2266 S. Kinnickinnic, reopened late Friday and served up cups of "butter beer," a Potter specialty, in honor of the occasion.

The new Jimmy John's sandwich shop, a few doors north of Harry W. Schwartz, appeared to be doing brisk business, as well.

Across the street at Broad Vocabulary bookstore, 2241 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., young Potter fans were watching the "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" movie in the comfortable sitting area at the back of the shop and concocting their own spells as part of a special in-store contest.

Broad Vocabulary co-owner Kelly Todd said she believes the Harry Potter books are not just entertaining, but can be used to teach children valuable lessons.

"The characters and how they're gendered is really interesting," she said. "More than anything it's a great tool to talk about class and race … it's a really good tool to teach kids about oppression."

Todd said Broad Vocabulary is considering the possibility of holding a discussion group on that topic in about a month.

At Harry W. Schwartz, Stephanie Brockway, who lives on Milwaukee's South Side, was the first to snare a copy of the last book in the Harry Potter series. She held it high above her head in victory as she rushed out of the store at a few minutes after midnight.

"I'm going to give it to my mother and she's going to read it first," Brockway said, "and then she's going to pass it on to me."

Nan Bialek can be reached at amuehlbauer@cninow.com or (262) 446-6632.

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