On August 28, Maple Street Book Shop, along with about 20 other businesses, celebrated the grand opening of a new location in the New Orleans Healing Center (NOHC). Several thousand people attended the extravagant festivities at NOHC, which began with a parade that led members of the community to the shops. NOHC’s mission is to heal, fulfill, and empower the community by providing services and products that promote every aspect of a person’s well-being.
Events at the bookstore included a raffle for gift certificates and giveaways of tote bags and bumper stickers that bore Maple Street’s unofficial motto, “Fight the Stupids.” Several local children’s authors, including Freddi Evans, Cornell Landry, Alex Beard, as well as illustrator Jean Cassels were present to read from and signed copies of their books. Kids also took part in dance lessons led by a local performer, DancingMan 504, and were able to have their faces painted by bookstore staff members.
The opening was “a huge success,” said store manager Ben Jenkins. “The feedback from those who attended was extremely positive. People seemed genuinely enthusiastic to have a book store in this area.”
The new store’s inventory is slightly different than that of the uptown Maple Street shops and is focused primarily on used books. The store will carry some new popular releases, staff picks, travel guides, and local books, but will concentrate on books written by local authors or books about Louisiana.
“We really want this store to be a place where local authors can sell their books, and in turn, be a place where people know that they can find a good selection of local books,” said Jenkins. “It is also important for us to carry the kinds of books that people in this area want, so we try to engage our customers in conversations about what they would like to see more of.”
Jenkins believes the bookstore, as well as the healing center as a whole, is a good fit for the area.
“This community had very few of the services now offered by the shops in the Healing Center,” he said. “For example, the food co-op will be the first grocery store in the area since [Katrina]. We hope that having a branch of Maple Street Book Shop will serve a similar purpose — provide easy access to books for those who want them so they don’t have to drive all over town to get them.”
Maple Street has plans to open a fourth location in mid October, near the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans. That location will carry a mixed inventory of half new and half used books.