Borders’s loss is proving to be indies’ gain. With the closing of a Borders in Mt. Kisco, Jennifer Cook, owner of NoKa Joe’s in Katonah, N.Y., has decided to take the plunge and turn the 650 sq. ft. second floor into a children’s specialty bookstore in October.
“I’m still working on the name,” says Cook, who has run NoKa Joe’s, a fair trade and organic coffee shop with soft-serve ice cream and fruit smoothies, in the same building for the past six years. But she’s going to convert the upstairs space, currently named NoKa, where she has sold gifts, toys, furniture, and some books for adults and kids, as well as exhibited art, for many years.
As a former president of the Chamber of Commerce, Cook says that a bookstore is the most frequently suggested business when the community is surveyed about what they’d like to see move in to town. Although she resisted in the past, she says that she saw her opportunity when Borders began its closing sale. She even purchased fixtures and displays from the closing store, which she will supplement with ones she already owns. In fact the October opening hinges on when Borders will let her pick them up.
“I’m not going into it romantically,” says Cook of her decision to go into children’s books in a bigger way. “Everybody quotes to me Little Shop Around the Corner. But it has to make money.” While Cook doesn’t believe a general bookstore would work, she doesn’t believe that the tactile experience of reading a children’s book is going away any time soon. Plus she already has a large customer base of kids from her ice cream and candy business.