Brookline Booksmith is making bibliophiles’ dreams come true.
Come late 2020, the 58-year-old Coolidge Corner establishment will undergo a colossal expansion. A 4,000-square-foot storefront two doors down from the indie bookseller will soon house additional retail space and an intimate cafe. Plus, the hangout is set to serve beer, wine, and cocktails — courtesy of its new liquor license.
“We still want to capture the general feeling that people love about our bookstore in the new space,” said Booksmith co-owner and manager Peter Win. “We want it to be comfortable and friendly.”
The plan is to open the expansion in the fall. The bookstore’s staff will reimagine the shop, currently occupied by Verizon, for book lovers. The new area will include an expanded children’s section and shelves of cookbooks, as well as room for the Transnational Series, a collection of translated stories focused on migration that the store compiles.
Details about the cafe’s menu and layout are still being pieced together. But Win said the cafe will operate on similar hours as the store while existing separately from it.
The way the expansion came about “was sort of the perfect storm,” Win explained.
In 2019, the state gave the town of Brookline a small number of liquor licenses to distribute — and one of these was unanimously granted to the store by the town’s Board of Selectmen. Around the same time, Booksmith’s landlord, who also owns the additional space, offered up the opportunity to expand the bookstore.
The decision to broaden the store stems from the desire to explore new streams of revenue.
“What we’ve learned in our store is that just having more stuff, even if they are really great books and items, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to sell more,” said Win. “Simply expanding the store and just adding more inventory doesn’t necessarily cut it.”
So the idea to open a cafe and bar arose as a new way to reach patrons looking for a spot for conversation and discovery.
The bookstore’s staff tested out an expansion during a six-week holiday pop-up that closed on New Year’s Eve. Hosted in a former Peet’s Coffee location next door, the pop-up sold heavily discounted books in a “bargain book wonderland” alongside seasonal offerings such as cookies and complementary gift-wrapping.
In June, once Verizon runs out its lease on the space, Booksmith will overtake the shop, with three months of construction to follow.
“We always want to be a bookstore first, and we want to remain that,” Win said. “But it’s a good time to grow, and after over 50 years, people are excited we are doing something new and different and bigger.”
Diti Kohli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_.