Besides staying up late to write blog posts, I also stay up way too late to read. For me, being in a bookstore, surrounded by books of all shapes, colors and sizes is a favorite past-time. I even managed a bookstore back in college for a few years. That’s why I was an early Kickstarter supporter of our first, very excellent neighborhood bookstore, Upshur Street Books. And it’s why I’m really interested and excited about the new Park View bookstore opening in January, Walls of Books.
Owned by Pablo Sierra, the new bookstore located at 3325 Georgia Avenue NW will primarily sell used books, along with a collection of new bestsellers and kids’ books and games, including educational toys from Melissa & Doug (one of my daughter’s favorites).
I stopped by Walls of Books last week while they were going through the gargantuan process of unpacking the hundreds of boxes of books and stocking the shelves, and spoke with Pablo about his ideas for the store.
A former Navy officer turned management consultant turned bookseller, Pablo seems both incredibly happy and partially stressed at the idea of being a retail business owner. What he lacks in retail experience, however, he makes up for with his excitement and passion for the business and the positive role he wants it to play in the community.
He said he was happy to combine his love of reading with his love (and years of experience) in business. “It’s incredibly hard to start a store,” he said. "But I also love books and wanted to find a way of bringing the two together."
After spending time researching bookstore options, Pablo chose a franchise option with Gottwalls books after connecting with the franchise owner. “We saw things the same way,” Pablo said. And change of career was a done deal.
With aisles and aisles of books, along with some open areas perfect for readings, story-time or community groups, the 2,400 sq ft store layout encourages both browsing and spending time in the store. In those open areas, Pablo plans to offer opportunities for children’s story time in both English and Spanish. He’d also like to encourage local authors to hold readings in the store, be a place for small community groups to meet, and enable people to sit and enjoy a book they find in the stacks.
The plan right now is to open in January 2016. Pablo said he was hoping to open earlier, but the effort of setting up more than 30,000 books and getting the store ready was bigger than he and his long-time girlfriend Karen thought. He thinks that’s ok, though. Better that the store be ready for the community.
Most of the books offered at the store will be used books (obviously, in great condition), and he’ll offer a 50% discount on future purchases when you return a book that you previously bought at the store. Pablo said he’s also planning on offering credit when people bring other books in to “trade.”
A community-focused bookstore along this stretch of Georgia Avenue is a phenomenal idea, and I hope it does well. It has a different vibe than Upshur Street Books, which is great as the two stores hopefully complement each other (dare I say, they bookend the neighborhood between them? Sorry, book pun.) Now Petworth and Park View residents get to have two book stores close by. This reader couldn’t be happier.