Sarasota News & Books Reopens After Flood

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On June 28, a new and improved Sarasota News & Books in Sarasota, Florida, will reopen after a disastrous plumbing accident on March 27 left the store with extensive structural damage and a complete loss of usable inventory. (For the full story about the flood, click here.)

The five-year-old bookstore and café has incorporated significant design changes, an expanded book selection, and improved space for author events. According to co-owner Caren Lobo, the faster-than-expected renovations and preparations for the re-opening have been the result of cooperation and assistance from many quarters.

Staff of Sarasota News & Books with general manager David Chaplin (center front)

"I couldn’t be more proud of this staff," Lobo told BTW just days before the grand re-opening. "They have really pulled together and come up with great ideas. The carpenters managed the basic reconstruction in record time, and master carpenter Noel Matta built new bookcases and many new fixtures."

Lobo explained that friends and neighbors in the community have been supportive and encouraging since the accident first happened, and now, she said, "They are beside themselves wanting the store to re-open. They’re getting our windows all dirty by pushing their noses up against them…. The store has never looked better."

Lobo credits general manager David Chaplin and senior bookseller Hester Jeswald with the intensive task of hand-selecting each book.

A highlight of the newly renovated store is the addition of a section dedicated to Book Sense, noted Chaplin. With 25 linear feet of shelf space now featuring Book Sense, customers will see prominent placement of titles from the Book Sense Bestseller list and many Book Sense 76 picks. Chaplin told BTW that the store was especially excited about the new section.

Looking ahead, Lobo said, "We weren’t sure about a grand re-opening ceremony on June 28 since the store will open at 7:30 a.m. But now we think there’s going to be a big crowd lined up at 7:30 -- so we will have a ribbon-cutting." --Nomi Schwartz