On a corner buzzing with small businesses in Kensington, Brooklyn, Briana Parker and Davi Marra have found a home for their new store, Lofty Pigeon Books. The 1,200-sq.-ft. space is far from ready for its August opening, but the wife-and-husband team have a clear vision for how the store will serve their community beyond books.

According to Parker, Lofty Pigeon’s operational plan began with a survey asking the neighborhood what it wants from a bookstore. More than 500 residents responded, and many more donated to the store’s Kickstarter campaign, which launched on Independent Bookstore Day last year and exceeded its $100,000 goal.

“We kept saying it will be a community gathering space that will be that third place between work and home,” explained Parker, who describes herself as a “third-generation Brooklynite” and has spent the last 10 years in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s publishing department. “We are going to have a lot of events for kids and adults, and we are going to give our space to other community groups and just make it a resource for the neighborhood.”

With its community-centered approach, Lofty Pigeon is among a growing crop of indie booksellers in South Brooklyn that aim to be multipurpose spaces for their neighborhoods. “You can open a bookstore in a really high-traffic area and not have it do very well,” said Marra, who has 23 years of bookselling experience and was most recently a book buyer and manager at Word Bookstores. “I think what really supports a bookstore is families and the investment in the neighborhood. If people really want to spend time and money in their neighborhoods, and if it feels like a neighborhood, then that is what will support a bookstore more than just pure numbers of people.”

Parker and Marra have had dreams of owning their own bookstore since they met working at the Corner Bookstore on the Upper East Side in 2008. They said their aim is to have a sustainable operation that fits within the scope of the community. “We just want to be serving our community well, and this is a place where we can do that,” Parker noted.

Along Cortelyou Road, a main artery of the nearby Ditmas Park neighborhood, Taylor & Co. Books has already settled into its intimate retail space after opening in March. Andrew Colarusso, the owner, is a poet who grew up in the neighborhood, and looking at bookselling and publishing from the business side has been an adjustment for him. “Now I am looking at numbers, and I am dealing with books as items, products, things that are in demand or not,” he said. “And so now I am seeing things from the capitalist side, and it’s an entirely different thing. As a bookseller, you can be completely oblivious to what’s being written, how it’s being written, why it’s being written; you can be completely oblivious to cultural zeitgeist and things like that and stick strictly to the numbers and be a sustainable business. It’s a completely different set of metrics of success. Whereas for my adult life as a writer, the metric of success was, ‘Did I actualize my artistic vision?’ ”

Growing up in the community and knowing the flow of the neighborhood helped Colarusso start the store. “The community response has been phenomenal,” he explained, adding that he also turned to crowdfunding to get up and running. “There was a lot of excitement, and it’s been wonderful.”

According to Colarusso, there hasn’t been a dedicated bookstore in the neighborhood since a store called Mostly Books closed. In a full-circle moment, one of the former owners of the store offered support during Colarusso’s crowdfunding campaign.

Over in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Greenlight Bookstore recently shuttered its second location after six and a half years. Its flagship location in Fort Greene is still operational, and the decision was made to “reallocate our resources to better serve our customers,” explained owner Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo. The closure of the location left a hole in the community that nearby Lofty Pigeon and Taylor & Co. are beginning to fill.

In Midwood, Briana Zeltzer is preparing to take over Here’s a Book Store after working there for well over a decade. The store, which mostly sells used books, has been in her family since her grandmother opened it in the 1970s. Zeltzer calls it an “odd duck” in comparison to other bookstores, in that it depends on the knowledge of its employees over technology.

“Whereas most bookstores are modernized and maintain inventory electronically, everyone who works at our store has a rough sense of which books are in stock at any given time,” she said. “That’s just one part of our charm in general. Being antiquated as we are lends a romantic, nostalgic quality to our store that many new bookstores—and businesses on the whole—lack.”

Keeping operations simple also better serves the store’s regular customers, Zeltzer said. “There’s a certain degree of familiarity between store and customer that cannot be overstated, at least in our case. We satisfy a need in our community, which is an insular one at that. Our customers find comfort in supporting those who share their heritage, people their friends’ friends recommend. Ours is a local safe space where members of the community might bump into a distant cousins or in-laws, or they’re less susceptible to being judged for any number of things in their daily lives. They really love and appreciate us.”

However, prioritizing the needs of the neighborhood has prevented Zeltzer from changing the way the store operates and which titles it carries, she admitted. “We cannot, under most circumstances, simply carry a new title because it seems interesting to us or received rave reviews from respected names in the industry or won an award,” she explained.

Despite the challenges, Zeltzer said she felt the store carries a “sense of wonder” for the community that needs to be preserved. “I was not about to allow a pillar of the community to simply vanish. We’re going to be faced with a lot of challenges going forward, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”

Christine Freglette doesn’t come from a family of booksellers, but there have been other small business owners in her family. Opening the BookMark Shoppe—a store in Bay Ridge that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year—was “my childhood dream,” she said. The location caught her attention because of nearby small shops and restaurants. “We make the perfect fit.”

In its 1,600-sq.-ft. space, the BookMark Shoppe sells only new books, and Freglette considers Amazon its main competition. “We are fighting Amazon prices daily,” she said. “It’s hard to give recommendations to customers who then purchase the book off Amazon in front of you.”

However, leaning into community partnerships and events has helped keep the neighborhood engaged with the store. “We have wonderful long-standing relationships with other businesses in the area and have collaborated over the years,” Freglette said. “Our base customer is the diehard book lover. Those relationships haven’t changed.”

The BookMark Shoppe’s goal has been to lure readers who use digital devices back to physical books. “We’re winning them back to our side by convincing them that nothing—not even the convenience an electronic device offers—will ever replace the excitement of swinging through a bookstore to get that second or third book in a series,” Freglette said.

Updated July 10, an earlier version of this article misspelled Briana Parker and Davi Marra.