“Representation in books is so important. I've – I've had it happen in my life, and I've seen it affect and change many people's lives.”
– Alsace Walentine, co-owner of Tombolo Books
When the Pandemic struck this spring, Alsace Walentine delivered books by bicycle.
She was the co-owner of a brand new bookstore – like “opened on December 14, 2019” brand new bookstore.
She was super sweating her equity.
Fast forward to the end of October, and now Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, Florida, also offers a mix of appointment shopping, online sales and curbside pick-up.
“Not too many people need deliveries anymore,” said Walentine, followed by a soft laugh.
Alsace Walentine, co-owner of Tombooo Books
But I got a feeling if that was the only way to get good books to people who want them—it would happen again, without question.
Alsace and her wife, Candace Anderson, started Tombolo as a pop-up bookstore with free delivery.
She spent four years working on a business plan, after she’d already spent more than a dozen years at an Indie bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina.
Finally, they built up to brick and mortar shop.
“The opening was totally amazing and the happiest day of my life, honestly,” Walentine said of that December 2019 day.
And, even though the pandemic hit, they somehow still made their pre-Coronavirus projected sales numbers.
Walentine described her reaction as astonished and amazed.
“I could cry.”
She says it’s all about this community and the “go-local” movement.
“They're all part of the success, and we can't do it without them, she said. “It's all about all of us in this together.”
And there’s more story to tell.
During the national outcry against systemic racism this summer, in wake of George Floyd’s murder, the store already had a curated selection of Social Justice titles.
“Part of the mission of the bookstore is to represent underrepresented voices, marginalized voices,” Walentine explained.
They began to offer book clubs on social justice and anti-racism.
They are virtual now, but when it becomes safe, the bookstore is looking forward to reprising their in–person events, especially with authors.
For the past few months, Virginia has been talking to people throughout the Bay area about how they are dealing with Life in The Time of Coronavirus.
They are stories of hope for our community.