Twenty-five years ago, Hamilton Allen, a reporter for the Providence Journal, opened a Little Professor franchise in Barrington, Rhode Island. Ten years later, he took the store independent and renamed it Barrington Books. This month, the bookstore, owned by Dana Schectman since 2008, begins a yearlong celebration of its role as a hub of the community, where literacy and conversation are fostered.
“The bookstore has been a staple in the community for over 25 years,” said Schectman, a lawyer and mother who was a regular customer of the store before becoming its owner. “It was a store that was always more than just a bookstore, it was a community meeting place, and that was my motivation for taking it over when [Allen] was retiring. I was so afraid that someone else would buy it and change it.”
While maintaining Allen’s vision of the store, Schectman has also successfully expanded to include The Studio at Barrington Books, which carries fine gifts and stationery, as well as a world-class toy department.
“Above all, we tried to stay true to the store, and keep that independent model going,” she said.
The store lies at the center of Barrington’s well-educated, high-income residential community, but also caters to a large vacationer population as well.
“Barrington Books has always been focused on customer service, and we will continue to do so going forward,” said store manager Jennifer Massotti. “While books will always be the soul of the business, our offerings continue to evolve as the needs of our customer base evolve.”
Massotti said the store works hard to accommodate the needs of customers, which include many young families. To meet their needs, the store has an extensive children’s section, a large selection of summer reading that correlates to local school assignments, and a well-attended story hour for kids.
Barrington relies on social media to send regular store updates, which provide information about events and new releases. The store also has a blog, Read Local, written by children’s book author Anika Denise, which has a large following.
To celebrate the store’s anniversary, Barrington Books is hosting a year of special events, including a Summer Reading Challenge; an evening reading group at the end of July hosted by Mark Peter Hughes, author of Lemonade Mouth; and several marquee author events that will be kept under wraps until the details are finalized. In addition, the Archie Comics Literacy Tour has chosen Barrington Books to host a stop on its 70-day tour this October.
To top it all off, Barrington Books has created a new anniversary logo, which will be printed on in-store posters and bookmarks to be given away to customers year-round.