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Book lover to fulfill longtime ambition with The Bookery Manchester

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 19. 2017 10:43PM

Liz Hitchcock, left, and Liz Cipriano hold the winning logo for their new project, The Bookery Manchester, at the former site of Alpha Loft on Elm Street. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — In preparing to open a bookstore on Elm Street come spring, Liz Hitchcock is solving a problem her family and others have experienced downtown.

Many evenings, Liz and her husband, Jeremy, Dyn’s co-founder and former CEO, looked for a place to spend time that didn’t involve visiting a bar or restaurant.

“We want to stay downtown, and we weren’t able to do that in the manner that we wanted to, so we ended up in Barnes & Noble and stuff like that,” she said last week. “It didn’t fit with what we wanted to do in our community.”

She will fulfill a decade-long dream, teaming up with Liz Cipriano to open up an independent bookstore, The Bookery Manchester, at the former home of McQuade’s clothing store and the Alpha Loft business incubator at 844 Elm St.

“Our hope is that we can kind of come in for the people that aren’t into the bar kind of mentality, and they can sit here and look at some books and drink some coffee and really enjoy themselves for an evening,” said Hitchcock, a philanthropist.

They want to develop a place that not only sells books — since people can buy them with their phones or laptops — but offer an experience of smelling and feeling books and attending live music and author signings while enjoying coffee or sandwiches from a planned cafe inside.

“I think it’s one community spot that’s always open,” she said.

Books will include “a curated selection of everything you didn’t know you should read,” including classics, local authors and “books that fly under the radar,” said Cipriano, who has library and retail experience.

Setting up the bookstore will cost around $250,000 and be financed with loans, said Hitchcock, who previously worked at Dyn in sales and marketing.

The American Booksellers Association said there were 2,321 independent bookstores around the country this year, compared to 1,651 in 2009.

Concord hosts a thriving bookstore on South Main Street, Gibson’s Bookstore.

“The idea of being a bookstore is to have book lovers on your team and to have a wide variety of really interesting books for folks to look at and to display them in an attractive way,” said store owner Michael Herrmann. “Even though there’s a certain romance to the book industry, it’s still retail.”

He heard people ask him to open a bookstore in Manchester, but he passed.

“For an independent bookstore to truly succeed, it has to be folks who are heavily emotionally invested in the community,” he said.

People stroll past the new space for the Bookery. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

A downtown bookstore “adds a lot of value to a community,” said Carlos Baía, Concord’s deputy city manager-development.

Hitchcock hopes more downtown housing projects will translate into more bookstore customers.

“I think that those are the type of people who will walk to buy gifts, to buy books, to buy stationery,” she said.

People also want more from their downtowns, added Jeremy Hitchcock.

“There’s more of a desire for those experiential and interesting places,” he said.

Liz Hitchcock, who’s also involved in redeveloping the former Rex movie theater on Amherst Street, said she doesn’t know whether more projects are in the offing.

“This city’s near and dear to us,” she said. “We appreciate the opportunities it’s afforded us, and we hope this bookstore kind of says that we’re going to be here for awhile.”

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