Next Chapter Books is preparing for its grand opening Thursday, but it’s already well-known on Detroit’s east side.
After operating as a pop-up shop inside the Alger Theater for several months, the independent bookstore landed a brick-and-mortar location at 16555 E. Warren Ave., just a block from the theater.
The store’s shelves are packed with new and gently used classics by James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison and Zora Neale Hurston, along with children’s books, fiction, cookbooks and more. A section dedicated to local authors proudly displays titles by Michigan Poet Laureate Nandi Comer, Terry Blackhawk, Anna Clark, MARS Marshall and Kelsey Ronan.
Co-owners and husband and wife Sarah and Jay Williams started the pop-up right after Thanksgiving last year, after noticing the lack of independent bookstores in the area. Sara says subway schedules They chose the Eastside neighborhood, in part because she grew up near the area.
“I definitely had emotional attachments to being here as a child, walking into the Jefferson Branch Library with my parents and falling in love with reading there,” she says. “There are pages [Bookshop], our friends have 27th Letter and Book Suey in Hamtramck, but between Woodward and Pointe there are no full-time independent bookstores in town.” (There are also Source bookstores in Midtown.)
Next Chapter Books had a planned opening on September 19 and will have a grand opening on Saturday, September 23. E. Warrenfest inaugural On Thursday, September 21, the bookstore will have a bounce house and family area. The festival celebrates area businesses and will include food trucks, three live entertainment stages and a tour shuttle service to take people between stores.
The Williamses are a true book-loving couple (Sarah calls herself a “two-fisted reader”) but they wondered if people in the neighborhood felt the need for a bookstore or cared about having one nearby. They got confirmation, Sarah says, when Joe Rashid of the East Warren Development Corporation told them that a bookstore was among the top five things residents requested in community surveys.
“That gave us enough reason to come and try it,” says Sarah. “People really seemed to want to have a bookstore here in the neighborhood, but people also came from Jefferson Chalmers, actually from places around town, and then Grosse Pointers also came… This is such a vibrant community with so many people. many people who love the place where they live but [who] They have to leave where they are to do many of their purchases.”
The couple got the space on E. Warren Avenue in April and have been working to get it up and running ever since. They’ve had regular book club meetings at the store since February, even though it was half-finished. The store also plans to add regular events such as author talks, poetry readings and story times for children.
Next Chapter Books shares the space with Eastside Roasters, which is working on installing a coffee shop in the back of the building. For now, they have a small table set up in front of the store to quickly serve an Italian soda or soft drink for visitors while they browse the shelves. Eventually, Eastside Roasters will have a separate entrance on the other side of the building in Kensington.
Sarah and Jay won a $50,000 Motor City Match Grant for the bookstore earlier this year. They have a five-year lease for the space, which is across the street from a new mixed-use apartment complex called The Ribbon that will house Gajiza Dumplins. La Cinta is still under construction. Popular East African restaurant Baobab Fare is planning a second location just down the street.
Beyond books and coffee, the store also sells products like T-shirts and tote bags printed by Midtown printer Ocelot, postcards from Detroit artist collective Live Coal Gallery, and baked goods from Been There Bake That, run by the couple. daughter.
“The great thing about a physical bookstore is not only supporting local businesses and keeping that money in the community, but also finding that book that catches your eye,” Sarah says. “I love it when kids come to the children’s section and go straight to a book and discover what makes them want to read… For me, [reading is] just a great way to develop my understanding of other people and experiences I haven’t had.”
Next Chapter Books is open from 11am to 5pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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