There’s a little Long Island hamlet once known as a whaling village where books are within arm’s reach almost anywhere you go. They also have a pop-up bookstore.
It’s not a village with a bookstore. It’s a village that is a pop-up bookstore.
The donut shop. The pilates studio. The hotel. The general store. Shelves lined with written works—from sci-fi novels to the classics—can even be spotted as centerpieces at local fundraising galas, dinner parties, and kids’ birthday bashes.
“I had this idea that this should not just be a village with a bookstore, but a village that is a bookstore,” said Taylor Rose Berry, the woman behind the idea.
Taylor has been curating great reading material for Sag Harbor residents and summer tourists for almost a decade. First, through her work in local bookstores and, as of five years ago, through pop-up bookstores.
Curated reads within arm’s reach
The impetus for the mini bookstores was simply a desire to deliver books to people young and old wherever they are. Taylor first approached friends about curating written works within their shops. She envisioned providing customers with material to peruse while they enjoyed their coffee or waited for their workout class, depending on the venue.
Then, after the idea gained traction, shop owners began to approach her to ask that she grace their space with great reads. She stocks the shelves at each mini bookstore with works that fit the customers who frequent that store, restaurant, hotel or gathering place. For example, the donut shop’s shelves offer a mix of cookbooks, creative nonfiction, and children’s books.
“It became a way to have a roving bookstore,” said Taylor, who’s loved reading as long as she was old enough to hold a book.
Taylor came into book sales after a successful, yet exhausting career in the restaurant industry. At the height of her career, she turned down an offer to serve as general manager of the prestigious Topping Rose House restaurant. She decided she’d rather manage the village’s reading list.
“I said no to basically this dream job with higher pay for this minimum wage job at Book Hampton—but I loved it,” she said. “I’ve always been an avid reader and I studied literature in college.”
After three years there, she opened her own bookstore, Harbor Books on Main Street. Just recently, she moved her shop one block east to Division Street and renamed her venture Berry & Co.
‘A space with everything I love’
As far as her four-walled bookstore goes, she created a space where customers want to visit, explore, and feel welcome to sit and stay awhile. Hand-painted signs pointing to Neverland, Hundred Acre Woods, Narnia, and other magical worlds dreamed up by authors, greet customers near the front door. The backdrop of the entrance is wallpapered with pages from some of Taylor’s favorite reads. Gone with the Wind. The Lord of the Rings. The Notebook.
Alongside the floor-to-ceiling rows of colorful book spines, Taylor sells gift items, doTerra oils, soaps, herbs, botanicals, and Dobrá Tea. Customers can enjoy a tea or latte with their nose buried in a good book in any corner of the store or on the sun-drenched, lounge-enticing patio.
“I created a space with everything I love. And if others love it too, well then, that’s perfect,” Taylor said.
And she still curates her roving bookstore throughout Sag Harbor. People often tell her how the concept is an innovative way to boost sales. But for Taylor, it’s about more than business.
“Honestly, it’s not about selling books. It’s about giving people access to books. I want people to have books around them all the time. When that becomes a reality for a community, something special happens. It’s kind of magical.”