In the runup to book eight in the hugely successful Wimpy Kid series (Nov.), creator Jeff Kinney is keeping himself busy with a new project, a possible bookstore and cafe in downtown Plainville, Mass., a small town in southern New England. If all goes well, he could be the latest in a string of successful writers to turn bookseller.
The bookstore actually had its roots 17 years ago when Falk’s Market, once the town’s central building, closed and fell into disrepair. “It was literally falling apart and caved in,” Kinney told PW. “Everybody who lived in Plainville gave a sigh – or did the head-down Charlie Brown – when they passed by, because it represents our town.”
Kinney and his wife ended up buying the market and the building next to it, which will be made into a parking lot. “I’ve had a lot of success. It seemed like the right thing to do,” said Kinney, who wanted to help his community by restoring the downtown to its former glory. Because the market was in such bad shape, he had to tear it down and is currently working with architects to build a three-story colonial on the site. He envisions retail on the ground floor – a 3,000-sq.-ft. bookstore and cafe – a community center with yoga and classes on the second floor, and offices above.
As he continues to explore whether a bookstore makes sense, Kinney’s been working with Paz & Associates and meeting with booksellers around New England. “We understand the financial decisions,” he said. “My hope is that it will be a bookstore. It’s got to be useful to the town.” He knows, too, that a bookstore will have to draw people into Plainville (pop. 6,000). “We have to be smart and cautious,” he said. For now, that translates into moving forward with plans for a general bookstore, which will likely have a strong Wimpy Kid section.