Clara Villarosa, former owner of the Hue-Man Experience Bookstore in Denver, will finally open her long-awaited Harlem-based African-American specialty store, the Hue-Man Bookstore, at the end of July in the Harlem USA mall on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, just below 125th Street in New York City.
Villarosa told PW that she has a 10-year lease on the 4,000-sq.-ft. store. "I'm creating my dream store," she said. The store will have an Afrocentric focus, open retail space and product depth, as well as "customer service, elegant ambience and pretty colors." Villarosa owned and directed the Hue-Man Experience in Denver for 16 years before selling the store in 2000 and relocating to New York City. Now located in predominately African-American Harlem, she said the new venture "will be in a population that has a literary history. Denver was hard—there weren't that many black people in Denver," she said.
At the beginning, the store's inventory will approach 7,000 titles, which she expects to stock through Ingram. The Hue-Man Bookstore, which has been three years in the making, is a partnership between Villarosa and two women who "always wanted to open a bookstore but needed someone with expertise." Her partners are Rita Ewing, an attorney and ex-wife of former New York Knick basketball star Patrick Ewing, and Celeste Johnson, wife of former Knick star Larry Johnson. The trio launched the $1 million venture with a combination of private funding and $475,000 in financing from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.