Since singer/songwriter Kate Jacobs and former investment banker Donna Garban opened Little City Books in Hoboken, N.J., in spring 2015, they have watched sales at the 1,200 sq. ft. indie grow—with half coming from children’s titles. So when their landlord offered them the chance to take over a storefront around the corner, they said “yes.” By Labor Day, they plan to open an 800 sq. ft. children’s bookstore, which they have tentatively named Little City Kids.
Although the year-old bookstore just got to “cruising speed,” Garban said, when the opportunity came up, she and Jacobs thought they had to do it. Hoboken is home to a number of young families.
"We’re finding that regardless of what people read online, they do not read picture books online,” Garban said. This is one reason she and Jacobs are confident about opening a kids’ store. Little City Kids also meets the pair's three-pronged criteria for expanding their existing operation: it’s got to make money, be good for the community, and be fun.
Since their initial investment and successful $22,000 Indiegogo campaign, Garban and Jacobs have doubled Little City’s inventory without having to reach into their pockets. But they are prepared to do so for the new store. The renovation will include knocking down a wall to connect Little City on Bloomfield Street with the new space, which will also have a separate entrance on 1st Street.
At the new space Little City plans to build on its successful storytime, host children’s authors, and add children’s classes. Garban and Jacobs are also planning additional activities in the kids’ store, which will have its own events space.
But the main reason Garban is looking forward to the expansion is to be able to add more kids' books, from birth through middle grade, and to display books with more face outs. The new space has some tiny rooms, where she would like to feature specialty items and toys.
YA titles will likely stay in the original store. “We have many college students who read YA,” said Garban. “We don’t want to send them to the kids’ store.” She would also like to see teens read more adult titles, from Regency romance to Catcher in the Rye.
As for the “adult store,” Garban said that she and Jacobs will add more books in the areas that are Little City’s strongest. Their top categories include fiction, general nonfiction, music, and cooking.
Even before Garban and Jacobs made the decision to add more space, they have been seeing positive signs. The store saw a slight profit in May, the first month that Little City could compare year-over-year sales, Garban said, as well as a “nice” profit in June.