Downtown’s newest bookstore is open for business.
Read With Me, A Children’s Book & Art Shop, opened Friday on Hargett Street near Marbles, the children’s museum. Even though it has been open less than a week, Read With Me has attracted a lot of attention from people walking by, owner Christine Brenner said.
“We had our first story time yesterday and another today,” she said. “Everyone’s just been really excited.”
The cozy, 1,200-square-foot space has light-colored wood floors and smells like new books. It has nooks for visitors to sit and read or participate in storytime, local art on the walls and an area for crafts.
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The store holds storytimes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
“We do three or four stories around a theme,” she said. “This week it’s being brave.”
Saturday’s storytime is usually a little different and is led by local authors, she said. This week’s author is Brenda Harris, who will read from her book “Poultry at Lavender Cottage” before leading poultry-themed activities.
A former librarian at Davis Drive Elementary School in Cary, Brenner has stocked the shelves with about 1,500 books arranged by height. Books for the youngest readers are closest to the ground, and books for young adults are on the top shelf, she said.
Brenner and her husband, Jonathon, who works at Cisco Systems, have long talked about owning a bookstore when they retired, but they decided to push up their plans about two years ago.
Since then, the couple has worked up a business plan, raised funds through an online campaign and found space. The location, at 111 E. Hargett St., once was home to the Nüvonivo children’s clothing store.
Read With Me is the second bookstore to open downtown in the last few weeks. Brewery Bhavana, a florist, bookstore, brewery and dim-sum restaurant, opened March 29.
The flower shop sells custom pieces and bouquets, single stems and smaller bouquets for gift giving. The bookstore in front has a collection of 400 to 500 books about art, food, travel, literature and nonfiction.
After visiting Bhavana, Brenner said she was glad to see the collection of books, and believes the more retailers who sell books in downtown Raleigh, the merrier.
Because so many people are moving to reading on tablets or other electronic devices, it’s nice having paperback reminders that it’s fun to read by themselves or with their children, she said.
“The more you see them, the more they stay in your focus,” she said. “And you can incorporate them in your child’s day.”