Love Letter from Lauren to all the readers I know and will know in the future,
So many people ask me why I opened an independent bookstore and I am never ready to give a short answer. Each time I am asked, I breathe out a heavy sigh because the road less taken is always hard to describe. The store represents a lot to me. In telling the story, it all seems serendipitous. It was one strange event and a series of opportunities and ideas that came to fruition all at once. In 2014, I was finishing my Masters's Degree in Social Work and spending many years as an attorney defending the rights of children in Dependency Court and I wasn't sure I wanted to finish the degree at that time. I was listening to my favorite NPR show, Fresh Air and Ann Patchett were talking about her bookstore in Nashville, TN. She said that bookstores are special places and that she couldn't live in a town that didn't have a local independent bookstore. I found myself saying to myself, that I didn't want to live in a community without a bookstore. We have been without a bookstore for almost twenty years. I continue to listen intently as she described the space surrounded by books and filled with customers and staff who loved books and could share the love of reading with fellow book lovers. People that love books are a special breed. There are many types of book lovers. The ones who keep buying and hoping they will get around to reading the book someday and there are those who read at least a book a week. And then there was me, a lot of both. I was a bookstore junky. Whenever we were out of town we would have to find the local bookstore. On vacations, my family would have to patiently sit in the bookstore and wait while I perused the stacks of books and played with the pens and the journals and buy a tote. So when I listened to Ann talk about her bookstore, I could see myself experiencing the same joy and decided that day to see if I could figure out how to open a bookstore in Orlando.
I knew that the best location was Winter Park. It had a walkable community, a destination for tourists, and for all of Central Florida. It had great shops and restaurants and it had been my home for almost fifty years. So the journey began with the mission statement that I wrote even before I had a space or a real chance of finding the perfect space. Today, eight years later, every word of the Mission statement still rings true. Our mission is to be part of the community and contribute to culture and the arts and literature and reading.
The store began on a side street in downtown Winter Park. The building was built in 1925 and is quaint with separate rooms that showcased each department. We started to grow out of the space and start looking for a building on the main street. In 2017 we bought a building and in October 2019 we moved into the new space.
In 2020, during the Pandemic, the City of Winter Garden approached us to open another bookstore in downtown Winter Garden, a neighborhood very similar to Winter Park with its vibrant downtown and beautiful landscapes. The City is known for its bike trails and went through the center of town. The community welcomed us with open arms and we enjoy and are overwhelmed by the love the City has shown us.
Our commitment to literacy, reading, and community engagement for life-long learning is showcased through our events, book clubs, virtual book fairs, online Sunshine State and children's book lists, and community partnerships. Specializing in new releases, New York Times best-sellers, oldies but goodies books in paperback, Indie Next picks, and unique gifts, games, journals, and writing instruments and puzzles, we host virtual and in-store author events with nationally recognized authors and offer discounts for educators, book clubs, and other groups.