Owner Julie Beddingfield says the move will help strengthen the business by adding more room for inventory, operations, and handicap accessibility.
By Matt Skoufalos | December 13, 2019
When Inkwood Books owner Julie Beddingfield thinks about moving her independent bookstore into its new location next year, she’s struck by the notion of how close by it is.
“I have this vision of getting all our friends and customers and family carrying the boxes across the street… and then I realize that [boxes of] books are 50 pounds,” Beddingfield said.
You could forgive her the daydream; after all, what’s kept Inkwood afloat in an age of online shopping is the support of a community of readers who have embraced their local book shop since it opened its doors nearly five years ago.
Beddingfield said the move was predicated by a few circumstances, the first being that the lease on her original storefront is up in February. Beyond that, she said, the business has outgrown its digs in the little shop at 31 King’s Highway East.
“We’re always balancing the ability to have events in the store versus the ability for people to shop,” Beddingfield said. “We need more storage, the ability to be more efficient with our purchasing, and we need space to do that.”
Some of that space will be given over to activities, like art workshops with Inkwood staffer Jen Richter, tabletop gaming for teens, writing workshops, and daytime book clubs. Beddingfield plans to survey the community to pinpoint where interests lie.
Creating efficiencies of space isn’t just good for the customer experience. It’s also going to help Inkwood leverage economies of scale with publishers, and build capacity to do more work with schools, including book fairs and author appearances.
In the new storefront, the popular children’s books area of Inkwood “will feel like the same cozy space, just a little more of it,” Beddingfield said.
“We’ll have a kids room, a book nook, and frankly just be able to display things better, so people can find what they’re looking for,” she said.
Plus, the new space at 106 King’s Highway East is also wheelchair accessible in a way that the current location is not, and “that’s a big deal to me,” Beddingfield said.
The front of the new building, which most recently held A Taste of Olive, will be reconstructed to orient towards Kings Highway with a pair of large display windows.
Plus, it’s “just a no-brainer” to situate a bookseller next-door to a coffee shop (Saxbys Haddonfield), Beddingfield said.
After nearly five years, Inkwood has remained the only full-service, independent seller of new books in the area, and in an age of online shopping, that’s something.
Beddingfield said she’s been overwhelmed by the support she’s received for the business model, and hopes the new location will help draw additional interest to maintain the shop.
“It’s been surprising how responsive people are to having a book store,” she said. “To be the place where people bring their families when they come visit, to see kids excited to come into the book store; someone walking by with a friend, it’s really neat.”
Beddingfield also credits her staff, many of whom have been along since the store opening, with helping build the business.
Author support, including a surprise pop-in from punk poet Patti Smith, who saw her own book in the window, has been another affirmation that Inkwood is on the right track.
But Beddingfield said the success of the business is built on “the day-to-day people who come in here.
“It gives me hope for the world,” she said. “All these people in our community who are coming in here are readers. Thank God. Books are not dead.”
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