In the East Bay, it’s pretty safe to say we love our bookstores. Throughout the year, but especially on April 30, be sure to visit at least one for Independent Bookstore Day, a national celebration that takes place annually on the last Saturday in April at participating indies across the country. Bookstores are so much more than retailers. Each unique brick-and-mortar offers a space for people to come together – both in person and virtually – to exchange ideas and share in the human experience. Shopping at your local spot is a great way to support neighbor-owned businesses who in turn bring employment opportunities and other services right back into the community.
“Independent bookstores are vibrant threads in the tapestry that makes up a community. They provide a safe, welcoming place to gather. Indies are like a town square to linger in and become enriched by,” says Jennifer Massotti, general manager and partner at Barrington Books. Massotti is appreciative of the community support the store received throughout the pandemic. “People saw first-hand the fragility of small businesses, and we were fortunate to experience a surge of love from our community. They wanted to ensure we made it through this period of challenge to nourish the next generation of book lovers.”
As we head into spring and new beginnings, Massotti is upbeat and positive about the future. “We finally feel like things are getting back to ‘normal’ and are excited to bring back our lively in-store event offerings of author signings, our award-winning weekly story hour, and community-centric events. There’s a hum in the air; people are optimistic and ready to explore.”
Laurie Sutherland, who took ownership of Island Books in Newport last summer, notes that her favorite thing about owning an indie is providing personalized service. “Many people come in the store not knowing exactly what they want to read, but because our booksellers are extremely well read and know the store inventory so well, we are able to help customers get books they love – and they come back and tell us how much they enjoyed the experience too! We also custom order books – if we don’t have a book someone wants in the store, we find it for them from one of our publishers,” she says.
Most booksellers also use their social media accounts to broadcast enticing images of stacks of books for shoppers to essentially do some pre-visit browsing. A simple way to show support is to follow them on their most active platform, comment something positive, or even post photos of yourself at their shop or goods you have purchased and tag them. Sign up for their newsletter to learn about special events.
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