New Indie Bookstore Coming to Erie, Pennsylvania

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Next month, Tracey Bowes is planning to open the doors to Pressed, a new independent bookstore and coffee shop in Erie, Pennsylvania, selling new books and gifts for all ages.

Pressed Bookstore logo“I’ve always thought it would be a wonderful thing to own and run a bookstore and how wonderful it would be for the community,” said Bowes, a former lawyer with four children. “What really made it happen was that we own a plaza, and we had space free. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of doing, so if I’m ever going to do it, now is the time.”

Bowes told Bookselling This Week that her husband had previously purchased the plaza property for his manufacturing company but instead redeveloped the land into spaces available for rent. Currently, the plaza houses a pizza restaurant, a home décor store, a specialty popcorn store, and a chiropractor.

In the space reserved for the bookstore, the adult area will be about 2,000 square feet, while the separate children’s area will be about 1,000 square feet. The connected café area is also 1,000 square feet and will serve coffee drinks and lattes, teas, and quick bites like cake pops and muffins. Bowes said she is especially excited about one special feature she is having made for the children’s area: a lifelike tree with a secret cubbyhole.

Exterior view of Pressed
Exterior view of Pressed

“That’s going to be a showstopper in the kids’ area, so I’m really excited about that,” she said. “It’s a realistic tree with a cave in it, with a little built-in seat inside where two or three kids can sit and read.”

The store is primed to serve Erie’s varied demographic of families and students from local colleges, with activities and events including author visits and book clubs for both adults and children of all ages, said Bowes.

“I want to have a one-stop shop where people in Erie can go to find a perfect gift — it may be a book and it may be some other type of item. I feel like in Erie there aren’t that many unique places to find a gift. We have a lot of chains and we have a handful of really great small retailers, but there aren’t that many, so I’m looking forward to adding to that,” said Bowes.

Pressed is slated for a Tuesday, April 3, opening, right after Easter. In preparation, Bowes, who said the store’s name incorporates the idea of a book press and a coffee press, has been updating Facebook with pictures of the space in progress and hiring staff for the coffee shop and bookstore; personally, she is planning to be at the store full-time.

Interior view of Pressed
Interior view of Pressed

“People are very excited and supportive of new businesses in general around here, but especially with this venture that I’m doing. I’ve had a lot of enthusiasm and support,” said Bowes. “We’re eventually planning on doing a grand opening, but we wanted to do a soft opening first so I can get my feet under me and have confidence in how things are running before I start doing press releases and really making a concerted effort on promotion.”

Bowes told BTW it was a little over a year ago when she began to think about what it would take to turn her empty plaza space into a working bookstore. To get started, she purchased the “Owning a Bookstore” manual from Paz & Associates and took advantage of the American Booksellers Association’s Booksellers Forums for questions. She also recently attended the fall New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) conference, where met a number of booksellers, including Sheila Baldwin of Erie’s Werner Books, who was supportive, friendly, and eager to give her good advice.

“NAIBA is a really good way of getting your feet wet with how the business works. I made a lot of great contacts,” she said.  “I was really stunned by the fact that everyone wants to just see each other succeed and do well, and they are so willing to share their ideas and experiences. It’s such a nurturing feeling, and I just love that.”

Ceiling of children's area
Ceiling of children's area

Bowes said she can’t wait to open the doors to Pressed and get started on her new venture. Initially, she said, the direction of the store, in terms of what books she stocks and activities she plans, will depend on the needs and wishes of the community.

“For me, this whole thing is going to be a work in progress,” she said. “I’m going to see how the community responds, what people are interested in, what is selling and then adjust as I go. I really want it to be a special place for the community, where they can get a unique and pleasant shopping experience that they can’t get online.”