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Did you know? Many big box retailers sell their book inventory at a loss. You might be asking: Why do they do this? The simple – and unfortunate – answer: To squash competition. So, when a local bookstore pops up, it’s imperative that we take notice for a number of reasons.

Abby Glen, Founder and Owner of Shelves Bookstore, Charlotte, NC

Enter: Shelves Bookstore. Founded in 2019 by Abby Glen, Shelves is an online bookstore that partners with multiple brick & mortar stores all over Charlotte, including Enderly Coffee. We recently sat down with Abby to ask her a little about Shelves Bookstore, how they’ve grown and pivoted during the pandemic, and why buying from a local bookstore is the perfect holiday purchase. Here’s what she had to say: What was the original vision for Shelves? Why did you decide to open a bookstore? The original vision for Shelves was to be a brick and mortar store. I love the bookstore experience. I always wanted to open a bookstore because I enjoy fellowship with people. I envisioned creating a space that would allow conversations, fellowship and community to occur – all in one space focused on knowledge and leisure. Looking back, I now see that I have the ability to create community, even if I don’t have a brick and mortar. The pandemic helped me realize that it doesn’t have to look the way that I thought it would at the beginning. One of the biggest things I believe in is that it is not always what it seems.

What happened to Shelves during the pandemic? How did you pivot? The last event Shelves had before COVID was at Enderly – I still remember that day so clearly. The first two months of quarantine, orders barely trickled in. We weren’t selling online, our website was barebones at the time, so things felt pretty desperate. Then one morning I woke up and I heard as clear as day: “The bread comes after the thirst.” At first I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I decided to trust God and see what happened. In May of 2020, I decided to have a pop-up market in Shamrock Park. Before the pandemic, I had planned to have a pop-up there and reached out to see if they would still have me. I had a few books left over from the March event at Enderly and thought “Why not?” After receiving the go-ahead, I booked the pop-up for the last Saturday in May. Then, the weekend before I was set to have the market, George Floyd was murdered. When I showed up on the day of the market, there was a lot of buzz about George Floyd. The energy was palpable.

Shelves Bookstore is a Community Partner of Enderly Coffee

The next day, I got an online submission from California. Until this point, I hadn’t gotten much traction online, so I wasn’t sure what to think of it. From there, things started moving quickly. On Monday, June 1 Charlotte Agenda (now Axios) called and interviewed me. They were putting together a list of black-owned businesses in Charlotte. The next morning, I woke up to dozens of online book submissions. Shelves became a recipient of all of the financial support people decided to shower on Black-owned businesses during racial reconciliation in 2020. The growth was exponential! I took the money we earned and invested it into our website. And we’ve been growing and moving forward ever since.

What’s the “why” behind Shelves Bookstore? MY why is truly for people to understand that it’s not always what it seems. As a person of faith, what I have been trying to encourage other people to do is: don’t be so quick to assume that just because something appears a certain way, that it will always be that way. You have to be open to what God will provide you once you surrender your perception. For instance, I might be accidentally shutting out the people that I was intended to touch all along if I shut things down and am afraid to explore the options.

Why do you believe that reading is freedom? You should never let someone tell you what something is; go and read it for yourself if you have access. Reading will free you from the potential bias and deception that people are often trying to trap you in. You never want to give someone ownership over what you’re thinking.

How can we support Shelves Bookstore this holiday season? The 3-month book subscription is a great choice for a holiday gift. We offer both adult and young adult books and you can choose from 6 different categories. The subscription service is open for purchase every 15th-19th of the month, so if you want to get this for a holiday gift keep that in mind! After purchasing the subscription, a book will be delivered (via mail, or Enderly’s delivery service – if applicable) the next month. All the information about the subscription service can be found on Shelves’ website.

If subscriptions aren’t your thing, you can shop at one of our Pop-Up Markets (check out our website or social media for more information!) or you can always purchase an individual book. If you live in Charlotte, you can purchase a book on our website and have it delivered with your Enderly Friday Delivery. We are also running a Friday Delivery special, where we will cover the cost of delivery if you purchase a book. You can find more information on our website.

What’s the best way to keep in touch with Shelves? Join our newsletter! You can find the information on our website. If you’re an avid social media user, you can also find us on Instagram or Facebook.

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