Chris and Gina Jones have less than a week left to reach their goal of $10,000 in funding to open Monte Cristo Bookshop in New London, Connecticut. So far, the couple has raised $6,400 via the crowd-funding platform Indiegogo, but they’ll need to reach their $10,000 goal by August 1 in order to receive any of those funds.
Since the Joneses first announced their intention to open a bookstore, community support has been strong. In January, they created a Facebook page for the store as a way to gather ideas and suggestions from the public. “Sure enough, we got a huge response and publicity for just planning,” said Chris Jones.
Shortly thereafter, the couple launched their Indiegogo campaign and in May held a kickoff event at a local pizza shop featuring several area authors and downtown community leaders. They also booked radio and public access spots and have relied heavily on word-of-mouth advertisement. Several authors promoted the Monte Cristo fundraising link via Facebook and that has yielded their largest response, the Joneses said.
The couple has a storefront in mind for Monte Cristo, located in the center of downtown New London, next to a popular café. In the meantime, they have been selling books on eBay, after receiving thousands in donations, as well as a collection of rare books gifted to them by their grandparents. The Joneses listed 400 books on eBay, and 150 sold within two weeks.
“We have gotten our feet wet selling books online,” said Gina. “We are very eager to show off what we can do with a physical space.”
Support from the community has been great, said Chris, with locals hoping to see the couple succeed. “Everybody that knows our personal story is just automatically supportive,” he said. The fundraiser has reached people outside of New London as well, who simply can’t imagine such a city without a bookstore. “They just love books enough to help a far away city and an unknown couple achieve their dreams,” he said.
Many community members have offered advice, and some have even requested that the store stock certain titles. And “people have been blogging!” said Gina. Local author Vince Tuckwood wrote on his blog about “the importance of our collective story, and stories, in this era of regeneration and rebirth for New London.
“Chris and Gina aren’t building a bookshop, they are building community,” he said.
When Monte Cristo opens, the Joneses plan to fill the calendar with events as soon as possible, and to make the store into a welcoming place.
“I feel that the atmosphere we have the first few weeks will set the tone for how the bookstore is perceived,” said Chris. “We want to hit the ground running. We want everybody that chipped in to this to feel it is their store. The pressure is on us to deliver something that exceeds all expectations.”