First, they came for the books. And Noëlle Santos said “No.”
When the only Barnes & Noble in the Bronx threatened to close its doors five years ago, Bronx native and passionate bookworm Noëlle Santos knew she had to pull out all the stops she had to keep the store open; nevertheless, and thousands of petition signatures later, the store closed.
This setback wasn’t enough to stop Santos, however, who decided that if she couldn’t save the Barnes & Noble, then she would open her own independent bookstore.
On April 27, 2019, National Independent Bookstore Day, The Lit. Bar opened. It’s a cozy queendom for patrons to read and relax, and it’s run by a book-toting millennial who calls herself the “proprietress” of her store. Even more, The Lit. Bar is a celebration of Bronx history and culture, and it aims “to create a haven that inspires reading, encourages healthy social interaction, highlights diverse voices, and increases intellectual visibility in the Bronx.”
Santos graduated from Lehman College in 2009 with a major in business and accounting; then she got a master’s in human resources management. She opened The Lit. Bar with support from a crowdfunding campaign, and promises a store that is as engaging and central to the borough as any of its other attractions.
The Lit. Bar recently won the NYPL & Citi Foundation’s NYStartUp! Business Plan Competition, which is an annual contest geared towards supporting new business owners and startups in the New York City area.
Santos says on the website that “The Lit. Bar will be just as multifaceted as me: a bookstore/wine bar/community center. I dream of a graffiti & chandelier theme, much like my life.”
This fledgeling bookstore may be the only one of its kind in the Bronx, but Santos (and those who are beginning to frequent the sweet digs she’s created) hopes her story inspires others to create and foster more community-focused literary spaces.
Featured image via thelitbar.com.