Move Over, Barnes & Noble. Another Bookstore Is Opening Downtown.

It’s been years since downtown Westport had a bookstore.

Next month, Barnes & Noble opens in the former Restoration Hardware.

This Thursday, a second bookstore opens right around the corner.

It’s smaller. It will sell only used books. But its story is huge.

The Westport Book Shop is a partnership between the Westport Library and Westport Book Sales, the non-profit with 2 important missions: They raise funds for the library by running its book sales, and they hire adults with disabilities.

For nearly 3 decades, the Summer Book Sale has been a beloved ritual on Jesup Green. So it’s fitting that the Westport Book Shop will be located between Green & Tonic and the new Basso restaurant (formerly Matsu Sushi).

In other words: It’s directly across Jesup Green from the library.

The new home of the Westport Book Shop.

The new venture — believed to be Westport’s first-ever used bookstore — came together quickly. The idea began in the spring, but the right space — a former art gallery — was not available until last month. Final town approval came on Friday.

The 5,000 or so books, in over 40 categories, come from donations to the annual book sales. There’s also a large selection of vinyl records, audio books, CDs and DVDs.

(In addition to the ginormous summer one, there are other book sales throughout the year. However, they’re on hold during COVID.)

The view from inside the Westport Book Shop, across Jesup Green to the library.

Books cover all major categories: fiction, non-fiction, biography, children’s, you name it.

“We’ll be talking to customers and ask what they especially want,” says Mimi Greenlee. The longtime volunteer will continue to work with Westport Book Sales on this project, with fellow members Jocelyn Barandiaran, Linda Hopper, Dick Lowenstein, Sharuna Mahesh and Deb Poulley​. Jennifer Bangser is the Library’s liaison.

The Book Shop also features the Drew Friedman Art Place. Miggs Burroughs will curate rotating exhibits of area artists.

Hours are Thursdays and Fridays, 3 to 6 p.m.; weekends, noon to 5 p.m. COVID restrictions apply.

Mimi Greenlee inspects a book n the children’s section.

Founding donors include The Drew Friedman Community Arts Center, Eileen Lavigne Flug, Dan Levinson, Jeffrey Mayer and Nancy Diamond, Jocelyn and Walter Barandiaran, Linda Monteiro-Hopper and Scott Hopper, Robin and Brad Berggren, Rebecca L. Ciota, The Kail Family, The Michael M. Wiseman and Helen A. Garten Charitable Foundation, Abilis Community Foundation, The Betty R. and Ralph Sheffer Foundation, Craig Rebecca Schiavone, Westport Sunrise Rotary, Rita Allen Foundation, and Berchem Moses PC. Local law firm Verrill donated most of the bookcases.

For more information, email info@westportbooksales.org.

28 responses to “Move Over, Barnes & Noble. Another Bookstore Is Opening Downtown.

  1. Wow! I feel almost as if the Strand had announced it was opening a branch in Westport. I hope that, like the Strand, the store will have outside bookcases in nicer weather (in part due to the fact that there will be older customers with underlying health conditions such as myself who won’t be able to go inside stores for quite a while). Between this and Barnes & Noble: what great news for downtown.

    • Fred, likely some outdoors tables(socially distant) with a view of Jesup Green and the Saugatuck are a first step of utilizing the patio area. Order something online and pickup curbside and you have your Strand.

  2. This is literally the shop around the corner. Ever seen the remake “You’ve got Mail?”
    Congrats to Bill Harmer and everyone who helped put this together. Nice addition to our Town.

  3. This is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sandra Rothenberg

    Wonderful for the community!!

  5. This is such wonderful news. Thanks to everyone who made it happen. A new President and a new bookstore! Things are looking up.

  6. Oh, Wonnnnnderfull!

  7. What a great idea. I hope there are outdoor stands so we can visit soon!

  8. And … Wetport is becoming Westport again! Two bookstores within moments of each other as when: Klein’s, Remarkable, and Atticus used to was. Now extend the beautiful library cafe and bring back the cinema.

  9. I know that this has been the long and abiding dream of Dick Lowenstein for decades – ever since the bad old days when the library routinely ignored our town zoning regs and illegally stored all their donated books inside the beautiful Golden Shadows up on Barons South. Sadly, back then the enormous weight of all the accumulated stored books actually broke the lovely dining room floor. Something, despite residents best efforts, that the library never saw fit to pay the town to repair. Lets hope the library is a better tenant here.

    Dick, everyone who knows the history can’t help but be deeply impressed with how you steadfastly held true to your dream of a library used book store and have, at long last, brought it to fruition. You are to be congratulated for your vision and tenacity. Nicely done. 👍

  10. Ah, a book cluster in Westport with the total being greater than the sum of its parts. If they build them, they will come. From miles around, people will arrive not quite sure why they’ve come. But they will experience the excitement of being able to browse through books by moving them, not clicking, and inhaling the aroma of an old book (or a new one), gently touching the binding with a sense of awe. I can’t wait.

  11. Congratulations! The dream became a reality.

  12. This is great. Can we donate books to it and where?
    Thanks everyone who put this together, it is a wonderful addition to the whole town.

  13. Eileen Lavigne Flug

    Book donations will be welcome again behind the Library once the weather gets warmer. Please hold onto them and check westportbooks.org for updates. Thanks!

  14. Totally wonderful. Hopefully this can be the beginning of a return to unique, locally owned and operated shops that can make our downtown vibrant once again!

  15. Jocelyn Barandiaran

    It is so heart-warming to read these comments.

    To answer Helen Ranholm’s question:

    For as long as the pandemic persists, we will not be able to accept book donations at the book shop, because we do not have the space to segregate and quarantine materials.

    We temporarily suspended book donation days at the end of November, but we do expect to resume accepting book donations within the next couple of months. When we resume, book donations will be made at the big grey Book Donation Center, in the Westport Library’s upper parking lot. As soo as we have a date for re-starting donations, we will publicize it on our website, and by email (and we hope we can rely on Dan to help get the word out as well!)

    Meanwhile, we look forward to welcoming everyone at the Book Shop soon.

    Jocelyn and The Westport Book Sale Team

  16. Looking forward to the Westport Bookshop! However, it is not Westport’s first used bookstore. There was one located where Tiffany’s is now — owned and run by my husband’s mother Hazel Thompson. He thinks she called it The Bookworm, and sold mostly used books and some small press books. This would have been in the late 70s/early 80s (Hazel died in 1983).

    • Thanks, Lee — very interesting. I don’t remember The Bookworm at all. But wasn’t that site The Ships restaurant then?

      • I asked my husband — he said it was on the side street between Post Road & Jesup Green, same side as Ship’s. I wouldn’t know — it was way before my time in Westport. He’s fuzzy on details (he has early stage dementia, alas), remembers many days there helping his mom out.

        Also, don’t know if antiquarian bookstores are considered used bookstores or not, but there are, or were, two in Westport that I know of.

        • Ah, yes — Taylor Place. There were (and I think still are) a few small stores there.

        • Lee: when my family moved to Westport in the spring of 1963, Thompson’s Drug Store, which had a classic soda counter to the best of my recollection, was located at the corner spot ultimately occupied by Ship’s. Was Hazel connected in any way to the drug store?

          • No, she was a Thompson by marriage to a type designer who hailed from a long line of baymen from Blue Point, Long Island.

  17. Margaret LeBedis

    I am wishing great success to the new Bookstore but I would like to mention that the Westport Woman’s Club had a used bookstore that operated for many years on the property of the Clubhouse located on Imperial Avenue.
    It was renovated & reinvented as the Curio Cottage. We had many clients especially Interior Decorators & Designers who purchased books for their clients’ projects. The small building was not heated or air conditioned so it was not possible to have the The Book Barn open year round but it was probably the only used book store, as we were told, along the coast from the New York state line as far as New Haven. Just wanted to secure a place in
    the history of the Town of Westport. I was the Chairperson for a number of years and Linda Amos was the Co-Chair. Thank you

  18. This is truly good news. Well done, everyone.

  19. Lucky for us to have this used book store….B&N will be out of business in 18 months after opening in their insane new location…who the hell will park behind and walk around…very few, I suspect…there must have been cannabis in the air for the B&N folks to fall for the pitch they were given to get ’em to move to a spot where restricted parking will surely discourage book shopping.

  20. Congrats to the wonderful volunteers that made Westport Book Sale so successful that we are able to come out of the annex and actually greet our customers, with face masks, of course. Those who prefer can still shop online and then just pick up their orders at the store whenever the store is open. Hooray, no more need for appointments! 2021 is so much better already📚

  21. I, for one, am totally delighted! As an avid reader, I can’t afford the $30+ cost (per week) of new books these days. I loved the annual Summer book sales, both at the Westport Library and Pequot. My stash is slowly getting depleted, and now I hope to refill it.

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