The Book House in St Louis has been a respected, iconic, community bookstore for over 30 years, selling new, used, and unusual books in a beloved old Victorian house with knowledgeable, passionate, and experienced staff. We have weathered the slings and arrows of an everchanging business in a tough economy, adapted and changed but never lost sight of the soul and heart of books and bookselling and the community we serve. But now we are being forced to relocate because the landlord of our historic building (which we thought would be preserved forever) has sold the property to be torn down for development. This summer we were given 90 days to move out and our carefully curated collection of over 250,000 books was suddenly homeless.
We have searched long and hard to find a new space that can still capture the friendly and historic atmosphere of our old house while giving us the opportunity to grow and expand and take our bookstore to a new level. Our new location at 7352 Manchester Road is in the heart of a wonderful community, surrounded by many other locally owned businesses in the special historic district off Maplewood Missouri. The new store will be almost 8000 sq feet (more than twice the size of our old location!) with plenty of room to expand with special areas for local authors and new releases, a children's room, art and rare books room, extra space for book signings, events, book clubs and community programs.
We are partnering with many of the local organizations and non profits through hosted charity events. We have plans to open a cooperative coffee shop with one of the local vendors creating supported employment opportunities for Second Chapter Center clients with Developmental Disabilities. Our bookstore already collects used book donations to help fund these programs as well as the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition and the Childrens Home Society. We also hope to work with The Turner Art Center and ArtWorks,(funding public art projects and work by local city youth) and other local artists to paint murals and help beautify the space. We will also host events for StudioSTL (writing program for teens) and ALIVE (Women's Support and Shelter) . And of course, bookclubs, booksigning and readings by local authors and writer's groups and much more! We are currently hosting a Locally Grown Author Expo in two weeks at Schafly Bottleworks, a local brewery and restaurant right down the street from the new building.
But we need your help! The building is over 100 years old and has been vacant for almost 20 years. It was once a Newberry's department store and still has the old storefront (in serious disrepair) and original tin ceilings (now water damaged). There is fantastic potential for a beautiful space once its remodeled. However there is a LOT of work to do. WE CANNOT OPEN THE STORE UNTIL IT MEETS BUILDING CODE. Initial estimates are over $100,000 to renovate the space. We have a plan to build in stages.
Phase One (Which is now complete!!) is to get our inventory of over 200,000 books packed and moved to the new space, and make the basement storage area and office building code compliant. We are here, (and still recovering from moving so many boxes and fixtures) but everything is in storage boxes and we can't put up bookshelves, unpack books, or let customers in to browse until Phase two is complete. (Believe me - the Maplewood Building Inspector is very firm about this).
Phase Two is to remodel the bare minimum to get the first 2000 Sq feet built out for retail and building code compliance so we can open up for business. We had hoped to open by the first of November but everything is taking more time and money than anticipated. Work needed (to OPEN OUR DOORS) includes:HVAC System , covering all walls and ceilings with fire resistant drywall, new lighting, replacement of plumbing and new bathrooms, new electrical wiring (and electric meter!), redoing stairs and store front. We have a great team of contractors and designers to help us, but it will take a lot of time and money to get it done.
Phase Three (to be done next year) includes the larger part of the space (an additional 4000 sq feet) which needs the most work including reinforcing floors, building another bathroom, back stairwell entrance, more lighting, and refurbishing historic ceiling and renovating the historic storefront , fixing up our event space, children's room, art and rare book areas, and the final finish and design work.
Bookstores are the heart and soul of a community fostering readers and writers, imagination,, creativity and knowledge. We are the town square where people can gather and share what they are passionate about. Books and bookstores are not a thing of the past! We are just growing and changing. The world needs more bookstores! The staff and I at The Book House have the passion and energy to make this happen! We have received enormous support and assistance from friends, customers, and the local community and businesses. We could not have made it this far without your generous support. PLEASE DONATE to our Kickstarter campaign online or you may send a check to The Book House, 7352 Manchester Rd, Maplewood MO 63143.
Help us to Build YOUR Community Bookstore!
Risks and challenges
We have faced many challenges to get this far. As mentioned above The Book House has been in business almost 30 years and though it has not made us rich we have successfully adapted and grown through many setbacks. This move is just the next step in our evolution. We have already done the first phase which seemed almost impossible at the beginning. Now we have the architectural plans and permits and a great team of contractors. It has been difficult to have everything in storage for weeks and not be able to run the store except for online sales. We have been in a holding pattern for a few weeks which is frustrating for our employees, customers and contractors, waiting on permits, etc. One of our biggest goals is to get a portion of the new space up and open for the holidays. The holiday season is a big portion of our sales and being closed during this time is a big setback for cash flow. All our energy is focused on getting the second phase done in time, but we are at the mercy of the contractors and the building inspector. It will take time. Even if we are unable to open for Christmas we have several events planned to bring in local authors and sell books and raise money for our store. So we are confident that even if it takes longer than anticipated we will be open as soon as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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