Independent bookstores are making a comeback across the U.S., with year-to-date book sales up 5 percent over last year, according to the American Booksellers Association — a significant rebound from the nearly 40 percent decrease in book sales at brick-and-mortar stores between 1995 and 2009.
The trend is evident in Ooltewah, where independent book and toy store A Little Bookish opened two months ago.
Collegedale resident Miranda Atkins said she had the idea to open the store 14 years ago, after she held her daughter's sixth birthday party at a book and toy store in Michigan and realized there was nothing like that in this area when she and her husband moved here.
"This area has grown so much and so fast in the last 14 years," she said. "I thought, 'If I don't do it now, someone else will do it. Now is the time.'"
The store carries books of all genres. Atkins said she is still feeling out the market, but children's books have been her best-sellers so far, followed by adult fiction. She also offers toys, mainly those made from natural and sustainable materials such as wood and recycled plastic.
A Little Bookish has become a community gathering spot, playing host to a popular children's story time every other Wednesday at 11 a.m. Atkins said she'd like to increase the frequency of the event, as well as offer an after-school story time for kids older than the mostly preschool-age children that typically attend the morning sessions. She'd also like to hold events for teens, such as trivia nights, and plans to host an adult book club at the shop after the holidays.
"I think we do offer something unique to this community. We have a lot of restaurants, banks, pharmacies, but not a lot of retail, and nothing focused on kids," she said. "People seem really happy to have us here."
A special Christmas-themed story time is planned for Friday, Dec. 21. For more details on that or other store events, follow A Little Bookish on Facebook. The store is at 8898 Old Lee Highway, Suite 110, and can be reached at 541-1428.
Email Emily Crisman at email@example.com.