The Bronx may be losing a major retail bookstore, but that isn’t deterring one Bronx resident from starting a bookstore of her own.
After last month’s announcement that the borough’s only Barnes & Noble would be replaced by a Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH at the end of the year, many are worried about the future without a bookstore in the Bronx.
Lucky for them, a local book lover and entrepreneur has decided to take matters into her own hands to write this next chapter.
Noelle Santos, a lifelong Bronx resident, will feature her pop-up shop, The Lit. Bar, at the Bronx Museum Holiday Market on December 10 and 11, in to raise funds to open the soon-to-be only independent bookstore in the Bronx in the new year. She hopes a crowd funding in the near future will also push the process forward.
She anticipates that the bookstore will launch sometime in January 2017, just after Barnes & Noble closes its doors. She envisions opening the bookstore somewhere in Hunts Point.
Opening the bookstore would make for an interesting but bittersweet ending to a journey that began two years ago when Santos first envisioned placing a bookmark, her own bookstore, in the Bronx.
“I’m excited for this opportunity, but the thought of no Barnes & Noble in the Bronx is devastating,” said Santos, a longtime Barnes & Noble customer. “I’m sad to see it go, but its eventual departure has given me this great opportunity.”
Last year, Noelle was awarded with a $7,500 grant after winning second place out of 360 contestants in a New York Public Library competition, which she has saved for The Lit. Bar. She has also put most of her personal savings towards the opening of the bookstore.
“Participating and placing in that competition felt like an accomplishment in itself, because it gave me an opportunity to execute my business plan while I was able to receive the guidance and resources I needed to take the next step in this process,” Santos said. “It was a very meaningful learning experience for me.”
She also said that she coined the name ‘The Lit. Bar’ because the bookstore will combine ‘lit.erature’ and wine. She added that the word ‘lit’ is another term for feelings tipsy.
Santos was born and raised in Soundview, before moving to Parkchester and then Crotona Park, where she has lived for the past decade. She graduated from Lehman College with a Bachelors degree in business administration and accounting in 2009, and went back to get her Masters degree in human resource management and African American studies in 2012. She currently works as a human resources and payroll director for an information technology company in Tribeca.
“My goal is to give artists and authors a platform to monetize their work in a social environment,” she said. “I also want to prove that an independent business can exist here - they don’t have to leave the Bronx to be successful.
Santos also started her own book club, Readers and Shakers, which consists of over 200 members and mostly meets in Manhattan. However, once her bookstore opens, Santos said that the store will serve as the new, permanent headquarters for the book club.
To sign up for The Lit. Bar’s email list, visit www.theli
The Lit. Bar will be one of over 50 vendors at the Bronx Museum Holiday Market.