The Library Shop, the non-profit bookstore inside the new San Diego Central Library, opened its doors on September 30, 2013, the same day as the library itself. The event took place in the space directly adjacent to the main entrance of the impressively designed library, which is a major architectural addition to the second-largest city in Southern California.
Overseeing the 800 square-foot store is manager Erin Zlotnik, who was previously a Random House field sales rep. “Everyone is thrilled with the scope of the building,” Zlotnik said. The store carries sidelines--library-branded totes, mugs, and T-shirts--and books make up about up 30% of the inventory. Heavy areas of focus are cookbooks and gift books; there is also a curated selection of trade paperback fiction, as well as children’s picture and board books.
“The Friends of the Library organization has a used bookstore in the building that's staffed by volunteers and is a fundraisting operation, which is why we carry more gift items than books,” Zlotnik explained. One of her favorite vendors is Out of Print Clothing, which manufactures casual unisex clothing with classic book titles silkscreened on them; Zlotnik and her staff then pair these items with the book.
“The store is a cross between a small boutique and a museum shop,” Zlotnik said. “San Diego is growing as an artisan’s community, so we selected six local artists to represent in the store.” Both lithographic prints and original paintings are sold at the Library Shop, as well as unique note cards and other gifts. Zlotnik’s background as a rep brings with it an appreciation for the "shop local" movement, which she thinks has been slower to catch on in San Diego than in other areas.
When the Library Shop participates in Small Business Saturday on November 30, though, it might bring an awareness of the importance of indie bookstores to the new shop’s customers. Zlotnik also plans to instigate pop-up Library Shops in San Diego that will be synced with various literary events.
“Our customers seem very excited about the new shop," Zlotnik said. “And as a non-profit, they like supporting us because they know what they spend will go right back into the new library.”