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Enchanted Chapters Was On Its Technique to Success Earlier than the Pandemic Hit

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“There may be simply no manner,” stated Andrea Montepagano, “to promote 20,000 books within the subsequent two weeks.”

The proprietor of Enchanted Chapters bookstore was sorry to be speaking about closing her store after lower than a 12 months. “It’s a brief story. We began in search of a spot and getting organized final 12 months in June. I wouldn’t have opened in any respect if I’d identified there’d be a well being disaster and we’d be closing 10 months later.”

Montepagano’s plan to create an inclusive area for all individuals, however particularly individuals with disabilities, was impressed by her personal daughter.

“She’s a low-functioning autistic,” she defined, “and we had a tough time going into any sort of public area the place there have been a number of auditory issues occurring, like vivid lights and loud noises. There was no sensory-friendly youngsters’s bookstore in Arizona that we may discover.”

Montepagano needed a spot that was extra predictable for her daughter and her daughter’s friends, with fluorescent lighting, quiet music, and a sensory room youngsters can go into in the event that they really feel overwhelmed.

“So we opened the shop with that intent, and with these issues. Instantly, it did properly,” she stated. “Contemplating that we’re a small enterprise catering to a centered group, the bigger group actually welcomed us. Then COVID hit, and there was a speedy decline.”

The shop’s title got here from a brainstorming session along with her childhood buddy Jennifer Pettit, who manages Enchanted Chapters. “It sounded heat and welcoming and kooky,” Montepagano stated, “and match properly with the thought of a youngsters’s bookstore. The place the Wild Issues Are is one in all my favourite books, and we took a number of inspiration from that.”

Seventy-five p.c of the store’s stock is aimed toward individuals 18 and underneath. “So, we’ve acquired younger grownup, teen, tween, and kids’s books,” she defined. “There’s a small choice of grownup books, principally cookbooks and self-help, for the grownups who are available in with their youngsters.”

Among the adults who visited the shop had been there simply to see Bellatrix, the shop cat. “Each impartial bookstore I’ve ever been to in any metropolis has a retailer cat,” Montepagano stated. “I knew we needed to have one. I wasn’t actually relying on her having so many followers, in fact. Some individuals stroll in and simply instantly ask the place Bellatrix is.”

Retailer cat or not, Montepagano knew the store would discover its area of interest; she’d famous that previously couple years, impartial bookstores had been thriving. Millennials had been turning from on-line studying and tablets, and appeared extra fascinated about actual books once more, she experiences. “Now this,” she stated of the pandemic that’s maintaining individuals from visiting brick-and-mortar bookshops. “The dream was to deliver again the impartial bookstore. Nobody was ready for what’s occurred.”

One in every of her targets for the shop was to encourage youth, particularly youth with disabilities, to be enthusiastic about studying. “Youngsters’s e book golf equipment, artwork golf equipment, story occasions, we had nearly each day issues occurring. However if you take away the social side of a bookstore, it’s tougher to get youngsters enthusiastic about studying. They’re much less motivated to learn with out their friends round.”

Montepagano was glad she saved her day job in industrial gross sales. “This bookstore was a dream of mine, one thing I did on the aspect.”

She’s acquired a few weeks to liquidate the shop’s stock; no matter’s left over can be donated to colleges and charity organizations. She hoped to have sufficient revenue to share along with her workers.

“After that, I don’t know what is going to develop into of us,” she concluded. “Our final day is July 25. We’d prefer to maintain some sort of presence indirectly. We might find yourself simply one other on-line bookstore.”

And what about all these individuals who wish to see Bellatrix?

“I don’t know,” Montepagano stated. “I suppose we might have to start out an Instagram web page for her.”