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Opening a Bookshop: Finding inspiration in NYC

“I have gone to [this bookshop] for years, always finding the one book I wanted - and then three more I hadn’t known I wanted.”

Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


How did I get here? I’m feeling terribly small amongst those skyscrapers. I really shouldn’t be here. I should be painting the walls in my bookshop. New York City is hustling and bustling. There is so much to do, so much to see. Yes, dear readers, I went on a short trip to NYC. I’m very, very lucky this year.

Instead of doing the usual sightseeing trips, I went on a bookish adventure. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I love exploring bookshops in the cities I visit.

My first stop was Argosy (nothing to do with Argos :). It was founded in 1925 and hosts an incredible number of beautiful old editions of well-known classics and rare books. The atmosphere in this bookshop is incredible. Argosy employees work at desks in the middle of the shop, surrounded by their valuable stock and inspired costumers. It was so interesting to see them handle their goods- some were cleaning and restoring books, others were valuing classics. It was a quiet and peaceful place. I felt far away from noisy NYC.

Argosy bookshop

And then I found an absolute treasure in their (very small) antique children's book section: A beautiful edition of "Frances Hodgson Burnett's 'Little Lord Fauntleroy". It will be on sale in my bookshop (I couldn't resist, I had to buy it). I also bought a cotton bag with Argosy's logo on it. I have a lot of these kind of bags at home now.So yes, I can highly recommend this gem of a bookstore in NYC.

Then there was Books of Wonder, a children's bookstore just off 5th Avenue. Books of Wonder also have been around for quite a while. They opened in 1980! I got so much inspiration from that store- it was magnificent!

Books of Wonder

Although it was a big bookstore, there displayed goods didn't overwhelm me. There was just the right number of books (I don't know if that makes sense but sometimes, I feel a little overwhelmed in bookshops). I also loved how they categorised their books and then... after a few minutes I discovered their huge antique children's book section. It was unreal. There were so many antique and expensive prints and copies of books, I couldn't believe it. And then, there it was, a FIRST EDITION, of 'The Wizard of Oz' for $24500. Nope, I definitely couldn’t afford that. But it was magical to see one, nonetheless.  

Books of Wonder

Their stock must be worth at least a million....Perhaps you are wondering if I bought something. Yes, I did, but it wasn't a book. I found a beautiful and slightly expensive Peter Pan poster (it will be displayed in my bookshop) and, what a surprise, another cotton bag with the logo of Books of Wonder. I couldn’t help it. 

I should sell cotton bags with the Wee Bookworms logo in my bookshop! 

To be honest, I think that this trip inspired me a lot. In the last few weeks I had been stressing about finding workmen, the perfect bookshelves, display units and paint. NYC gave me (even if it was only for a short time) some breathing space and, above all, lots of inspiration.

Thank you, Argosy, and thank you Books of Wonder.

I can highly recommend NYC to Bookworms. Oh, and by the way, if you also happen to be a musical fan, you should go to a diner called ‘Star Dust’ where soon-to-be famous performers sing famous musical hits whilst you are eating your chips. I know this has nothing to do with bookshops, but I love this place and I can imagine that some of you Bookworms out there are also into musicals.

So, as you can imagine, my bookshop saw very little progress last week. We arrived back from NYC on Friday and, as I started to panic, my hubby and I got the new (and lovely) floor organised for the shop and, as I continued to panic, we painted all Saturday evening. I’m sure that I will get more done this week!

Look out for my newest updates. Thank you for reading this!

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