In an increasingly digital world, there appears to be a grassroots effort to bring back the classic storefront for books and music. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s because people have shifted towards needing and wanting community and a bookstore provides that to them. More than just selling books, it provides a place for people to get together and talk about issues that are in books or storylines behind books. I think there’s a real trend towards small business and community supported small business.
Your original plan was to open a storefront location on Livernois. What attracted you to that area?
The neighbors. The neighborhoods. When I was originally going to open, it was part of REVOLVE Detroit program and that’s where that was too. There are five neighborhoods that surround that area and I got to know people and I felt strongly that they would support a bookstore. It’s demographics too. There are families there and most people own their homes so that means they’ll probably stay a little bit longer – those were important things to me too.
You are currently in the Grandmont Rosedale area. How has the transition been?
It’s been good. I knew this neighborhood. It’s very similar to the Livernois area as far as families and stability. I’ve gotten great support here. I think part of it is being with Amanda because she’s got a great clientele and has done a lot of introductions.
Where would you like to settle long term? What will the environment look like?
I’ll do the environment first. It needs to be a space that has a highly curated selection of books. It’ll never be like a Barnes & Noble or a Borders or anything remotely close to that. The advantage of the bookstore is that every book will be hand selected. It won’t be ‘come in and get anything you want’ – I can order anything you want but in the store books will be selected by me or staff. I want it to be a place where people can find new books and new authors. I also need space to welcome the community. I love to do events. I’ve done events over the last year and a half and it’s fun. That’s the environment: comfortable so people can come sit, look at books, read, have books clubs, a place to gather – those are the community things I’m thinking about.
Location… I am looking here on Grand River in the Grandmont Rosedale area. I have a couple contacts left on Livernois that might turn into something. Those are my two options.
What do you look for when you select books?
Books! I thought you were going to say building and I’d break with that one. I have best-sellers that I think are good or that have been recommended to me. The booksellers in the country are really connected so I get recommendations from other people and I recommend to them as well. I also have a selection of classics – the books most people have heard of but maybe not read and, in that section, I look for the books you haven’t heard of from great authors. When I was on Livernois I got a lot of request for self-help/spiritually based books and so I added those to the collection. If I have customers asking for something, I’ll do that.
Are you from Detroit? What is it about the city that appeals to you?
I have never lived in the city but I’ve worked in the city almost my entire life so I am very familiar with it. Why Detroit? That’s a question I get asked a lot. First of all, it’s fun to be in a growing city. I can feel the growth and people coming together to make that happen in the neighborhoods and it’s fun to be part of that. From a practical standpoint I see a need for it. I wanted to be in the northwest part of Detroit because this area doesn’t get the literary events that go to Midtown or Downtown or even now West Village or Hamtramack. I think it’s space. I think there needs to be space for these events. That’s why I like Northwest.