Some might say print is dying, but for Cate Cote-Martel, owner of a quiet bookstore in Barrington, that is far from the truth. The Book Nerd opened on April 14 with no shortage of fanfare: henna tattoos, cupcakes, Harry Potter trivia, and a ribbon cutting ceremony. It wasn’t just a welcome party for Maple Avenue’s newest addition, but a celebration of Cate’s labor of love.
“I always wanted to have a bookstore,” Cate says simply. The retired East Providence teacher is also a self-proclaimed “book nerd” herself, and decided to share her love for the printed word in the form of a used bookstore, which Barrington did not have.
The Book Nerd sells used and collectible books (sourced from book sales and the community), plus vintage tea pots and English Yorkshire tea (since, Cate laughs, she loves drinking a cup of tea when she reads). The shop is personalized to be whimsical and fun, but appropriately bookish, with a 221 Baker Street sign, bright turquoise walls, shelves built by her husband and painted by local high schoolers, and a pink flamingo sporting reading glasses, the store’s mascot.
While at time of press, the store had only been officially open for two weeks, the response had been overwhelmingly positive. “The people that come in are so interesting,” Cate says. She recalls meeting the head of Memorial Hospital, a local YA author, and an 80-year-old couple, the husband of which helped Cate stock the shelves with books. Each one has also helped drive even more customers to The Book Nerd through word of mouth. Cate remembers that the owner of Blue Kangaroo Café stopped by and expressed her excitement, and over the course of the next three days, a slew of newcomers visited at her recommendation.
Cate hopes that The Book Nerd will be a place for families and friends to gather and connect. She plans to convert the overflowing backroom into a space for cribbage tournaments and a music class for youngsters, taught by a friend and music teacher. She will start a Saturday morning book club for third through fifth graders, in addition to the two book clubs that formed in May.
Says Cate, “I have the best job ever because of the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made.”