Duende District: Creating a New Intersectional Bookstore Experience
I'm Angela Maria Spring, the founder and owner of Duende District. I'm the proud daughter and granddaughter of Central and Latin American immigrants and a veteran bookseller. Sixteen years of working in both corporate and indie bookstores from one end of the country to the other has showed me that our communities, especially in D.C., have a deep need for an authentic general bookstore space built from the ground up by bookstore professionals who are people of color – but where all people are genuinely welcome.
I left my job as a manager at Politics & Prose in November to start Duende District, with a mission to continually cultivate relationships and start conversations with books, gifts, events, and displays, all curated and planned by people of color,
Duende District will be a bookstore that consciously embraces and builds interactive partnerships with D.C.’s minority communities, while also inviting everyone to enjoy an inviting, high-quality bookstore experience.
Why do we need a bookstore like Duende District in Washington, D.C.?
My inspiration story:
I'm originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and moved to New York City in 2007 for graduate school and was the the children's buyer at McNally Jackson. I loved the city, loved being closer to my Puerto Rican family.
When I moved with my husband to D.C. in 2010, I found a job at a bookstore in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country. For five years, almost every other Latino I saw was cleaning somebody's house or yard, taking care of someone's baby or cooking someone's meal. It wore me down and then last summer, I found myself in an event-planning meeting with the store's senior staff for an event on the topic of "Diversity" and it hit me hard that I was the only person of color in the room.
That was when I knew my real work as a bookseller needed to begin.
My mother and grandmother immigrated from Panama and worked tirelessly to provide me with the privilege and opportunities I have. But I had forgotten their real lessons. They taught me that if we have privilege, it is our duty to use it to support and uplift those in our community who don't.
D.C. is a vibrant city comprised of black, Latino and immigrant communities who deserve a bookstore that embraces them all. And my wonderful, but few, colleagues of color deserve to rise up into senior positions in bookstores, need to be the majority at the table planning events, buying books, hiring and training booksellers and creating marketing campaigns for those communities.
Building Duende District is part of my resistance effort because I know it will touch, enrich and empower many who need it. Love, truth and inclusiveness are the goals. We have to find a way to bridge the divides that are meaningful so we can heal with each other. That's why our motto is "Todas Las Voces -- All voices".
Duende District's Mobile Pop-Up: Building a Bookstore On the Go
In late February, I was offered the unique opportunity to assemble the pieces of Duende District's first pop-up retail venture this spring, located in the Artomatic 2017 festival.
As an "entrepreneurial literature startup incubated within Artomatic 2017,” the pop-up will carry a small original inventory of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, art books, graphic novels and children’s picture books. The pop-up space also allows me to plan a series of interactive experiences with local artists, writers and community organizations to spread awareness of Duende District’s mission and to begin its search for a permanent home in Washington, D.C.
The success of the Duende District pop-up will provide all the pieces of a bookshop that I can take anywhere. It will also be the first bricks that pave the road to a permanent physical space by providing proof of funding that we can build into the business plan, as well as open up a channel for the communities that want and need this bookstore the most to reach out to me as I search for that bricks-and-mortar space.
During the Kickstarter campaign, you get to watch a pop-up bookstore come together in real time. My team and I will post videos, pictures and recordings of events, programming, writing workshops and book group discussion sessions. You'll get to see not only my excitement of building my dream but the excitement of the booksellers and community members who want a bookstore like this to succeed!
How to Assemble a Pop-Up Bookstore
Most Duende District pop-up expenses are one-time costs that will be used continually by Duende District to use for continual pop-up opportunities and to drive the business as it looks for a bricks-and-mortar space.
I'm also working with fellow booksellers with amazing talents in many spheres, like Ashfia, who's painting the mural and postcard; Adam Waterreus, a woodworker who is reworking a mobile cashwrap fixture for us; and Josh Levi and Christopher Greggs, who are creating the graphics for the store!
Your pledges will fund the following:
-Registration of Duende District as an LLC and procurement of a temporary sales license in Virginia, where the pop-up will be ($500)
-Duende District domain name and website ($500)
-Duende District Business Cards ($150)
-Design of Duende District Logo and assorted designs ($500)
- A cashwrap fixture on wheels crafted by local wordworker and bookseller Adam Waterreus ($1,200)
- A portable register system, including cash drawer/receipt printer/iPad Mini and assorted parts for the Square register system ($1,000)
-Book display fixtures ($300)
-Store laptop ($900)
-Opening inventory orders ($1,000)
- Payroll for Duende District staff for March 25-May 10 ($1,000)
-Display Tables and Decor ($500)
-Event Planning/Author/Artist Fees ($200)
-Store supplies (tape, signs, card stock, pens, bags) ($320)
-Branded postcards, prints and bookmarks ($400)
Please join me in building this bookstore, because the more of more of us who come on this journey, the more we can, and will, change this country. This is our time and we can do this together.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge has been the time factor - less than two months is not much time to put together a full bookstore pop-up! However, as a bookstore veteran who just spent the past three years managing the sales floor of the one of biggest independent bookstores on the East Coast, I'm fully confident going forward.
Though the Kickstarter is happening in real time, much of what I've been able to put together right now has either been on credit that must be paid back or invoices that will come due in May.
This particular pop-up is not a profit-driven enterprise, but a vehicle to create a mobile bookstore and to raise awareness for the store's mission and gage location-specific interest for the eventual permanent store space. It's going to be how I connect with everyone about my mission, which I believe can become a template for how bookstores should be built going forward.
This is the bookstore of the future and the future is now.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)