Hooray for (Kids) Books

The cover of the New Yorker this month depicts a delivery man handing an Amazon.com package to a young woman standing in her apartment doorway. She looks sheepishly at her next-door neighbor who is unlocking the door to his small bookstore and witnessing the transaction.

This illustration may capture the story of what's happened to many independent book stores in the last few years as they've struggled against a wave of customers defecting to Amazon.com, other e-commerce sites and mega bookstores, so it's heartening to report that a new children's bookstore is opening in Alexandria this Saturday.

Two former staffers of A Likely Story, a small bookstore that abruptly closed its doors last November, have taken over the store's old space near the King Street metro in Old Town and opened Hooray for Books, an independent children's bookstore.

A Likely Story was in business for more than 20 years, but its most recent owners closed the store after only three years of ownership.

Hooray for Books co-owners Trish Brown (left) and Ellen Klein. (Hooray for Books)

The new co-owners, Trish Brown and Ellen Klein, have hired three part-timers, also veterans of the old store. Both women have long had a strong interest in independent bookstores.

In 1984, Klein interviewed the original owner of A Likely Story, Marilyn Dugan, for a local newspaper article. She fell in love with the bookstore and was interested in buying it, but when Dugan retired and put it up for sale a few years ago, Klein wasn't in a position to snatch up the shop. Instead, she began working there part-time.

Brown said she was always interested in owning a bookstore and began working at A Likely Story when her daughter was five years old, eventually accruing 16 years of experience at the store.

Hooray for Books is an independent children's bookstore. (Joe Van Eaton)

The co-owners acknowledge that running a small brick-and-mortar shop is challenging these days, but Brown said, "I like to hold a book in my hands and see it, feel the heft of it and see the pictures."

Klein said customers find it helpful to flip through a book before they buy it. "If you go to Amazon.com, if you know exactly what you want, it might work," she said. "But if you're trying to buy something for your granddaughter who is eight and likes horses, but don't know what to get, we can suggest a dozen books that fit that criteria."

The company plans Friday and Saturday morning story hours, child safety-seat inspections from a licensed inspector, summer camp and a career camp showcasing people with different professions, such as a canine cop, firefighter, photographer and restaurateur.

By Sharon McLoone |  June 19, 2008; 12:42 PM ET Profiles in Entrepreneurship
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I am glad to see that A Likely Story has re-opened it's doors under a new name. Like Ms. Brown and Ms. Klein, two friends and I also opened a small independent children's bookstore in Northern Virginia, The Story Tellers located in the historic town of Occoquan. Located on the web at www.3storytellers.com. We went into it with our eyes open, we knew about A Likely Story's past and hoped we could attract enough customers to keep us in business. Kudos and good luck to the new owners, perhaps we can share some successes. Congratulations to them and best of luck. Kendall H., Co-Owner of The Story Tellers.

Posted by: Kendall Holbrook | June 23, 2008 5:48 PM

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