Westport Book Shop dazzles book-lovers, provides community space

The+Westport+Bookshop%2C+Westport%E2%80%99s+first+used+book+store%2C+officially+opened+January+28.+They+are+open+Thursdays+and+Fridays+from+three+to+six+p.m+and+on+weekends+from+noon+to+five+p.m.+

Photos by Maya Hruskar ’23

The Westport Bookshop, Westport’s first used book store, officially opened January 28. They are open Thursdays and Fridays from three to six p.m and on weekends from noon to five p.m.

Maya Hruskar '23, Paper Opinions Editor

 

The newly opened Westport Book Shop is a nonprofit book store dedicated to raising funds for the Westport Public Library and employing adults with disabilities. The store contains over 5,000 gently used books in a variety of genres.

Bundled in coats and a buzz of conversation, people wait on chalk circles as cars lazily roll by and snow sloshes against the pavement. Customers chime in and out of the storefront, releasing swaths of warm air and bustling atmosphere from the interior. When you enter, a charming space greets you packed full of every manner of book, from sci-fi literature to American history and a dizzyingly nostalgic abundance of children’s books.

In other words, the newly opened Westport Bookshop is a utopia for readers. 

“I’m very happy to create a community space in this shop,” Jocelyn Barandarian, president of Westport Book Sales, said. “I think every town should have a used bookstore. It’s just fun to browse and wander around and to get lost in.”

The Westport Bookshop sells used books donated from members of the community. This is an extension on the much-loved community tradition of the annual summer book sale, whose organizers, the Westport Book Sale, have expanded their mission into the store. 

The shop itself is a non-profit whose mission includes both raising funds for the Westport Library and employing adults with disabilities. In the Westport Book Shop, adults with disabilities can be trained in retail and have the ability to transfer these skills on to other jobs and stores around town, ultimately expanding their job opportunities.

“Adults with disabilities is a significantly underserved community,” Barandarian said, “and employment is one of those things that is so important to people’s own self identity, to their self-worth and ability to feel independent.”

Along with this mission, the Westport book sale hopes to provide a community space and entertain readers of all ages.

“Someday when COVID-19 is over, we will be able to put some comfy chairs in here,  and I could see somebody doing a reading for kids one day,” Barandarian said.

 Since the closing of The Remarkable Book Shop in 1994, Westport has been without a local downtown bookstore. Now, with the opening of the Westport Book Shop and the imminent relocation of Barnes and Noble into a downtown location, local readers will have a surplus of options for their book ventures. 

“It’s going to be this really terrific literary corridor: the Westport Library and whatever you want to borrow there, you have us for out of print books and antiquarian books and then Barnes and Noble will have whatever has just been published at the minute,” Barandarian reflected. 

Ultimately, the Westport Book Shop hopes to not only be a book-seller but also to expand into the Westport community and form partnerships with various community organizations. 

“I sort of think, beyond COVID-19, […] we can […] imagine being able to partner with different nonprofits in town,” Barandarian said, “to feature books that relate to something they’re doing, or to have a speaker come in. There’s just so much potential [for the store] to be a community space.”

I sort of think, beyond COVID-19, […] we can […] imagine being able to partner with different nonprofits in town to feature books that relate to something they’re doing, or to have a speaker come in. There’s just so much potential [for the store] to be a community space.”

— Jocelyn Barandarian