Gibson’s Bookstore, a staple in the Concord, New Hampshire, community since 1898, is moving into a new, larger location at 45 S. Main Street with plans to open in July.
The location is, appropriately, the empty first floor of the New Hampshire Bindery. The new storefront has triple the amount of space (more than 10,000 square feet) for expanding popular sections, including crafts, antiques, and cookbooks, and owner Michael Herrmann will finally have room to properly display books that are currently piled high. “We have books just jammed in here,” Herrmann said of the current store. “We don’t display as well as we could — the idea behind the expansion is that we’ll sell more books if customers can actually see them.” Signature sections, like fiction, poetry, and biography, will also be grown.
Gibson’s will be taking on full-time children’s book specialist Isabel Berg to work on the expanded children’s section. Berg is well-versed in children’s buying, handselling, community outreach, and working with schools.
The store’s new events section will comfortably seat 100 people, but Herrmann plans to maintain its partnership with the Red River Theater for larger events, including appearances by the likes of Dennis Lehane and Jodi Picoult. With new, extended hours, Gibson’s will be able to host more events and provide longer hours for browsing the shelves. Herrmann is looking to bring on more staff to help manage the larger space and inventory.
Also new will be True Brew Barista, a local coffee shop that has developed a strong following. In the current space, café Bread & Chocolate shares an interior door with Gibson’s and effectively serves as the store’s coffee shop. With no room in the new space for a kitchen, Herrmann came up with a new idea: True Brew Barista will serve coffee, teas, and snacks, and will also carry Bread & Chocolate’s pastries. “We still have the best of both worlds,” he said.
The city of Concord is in the throes of revamping its Main Street, and Herrmann expects to benefit from both its narrower streets (to slow traffic down) and wider sidewalks (to make it more pedestrian-friendly). Manicured landscapes and pocket parks will also dot the area.
The store is applying for sidewalk seating, “so in the six weeks (apparently) there isn’t snow on the ground in Concord, you’ll be able to enjoy a latte outside, in the sunshine,” noted a Gibson’s newsletter.
While the new Gibson’s is under construction, with bookshelves, lighting, and signage ordered and plans for the transition underway, Herrmann has been thinking about the store’s role in the industry and believes that the expansion is an important step. “Now more than ever, publishers need independent stores to step up and be the best independent partners we can for them,” he said. “If a bookstore can expand or identifies a need to expand, they should consider it. It’s the wrong juncture in history to downsize.”