When the independent Visible Voice Bookstore closed its storefront on Kenilworth in Tremont three years ago, the community mourning the loss of this cozy gathering place, which not only sold books, cards and other literary-related items but also hosted musicians, poets, authors and community meetings.
But, says owner Dave Ferrante, it was never his intention to close permanently. And this week the store re-opens in a higher-profile location on Professor Avenue in the former Komorowski funeral home. Visible Voice is on the second floor, while its former across-the-street neighbor, Crust pizza, occupies the first.
Ferrante says he knew he’d reopen “an hour after I closed the door. I feel a brick-and-mortar bookstore can make it if you keep overhead under control and are in the right neighborhood. Tremont is the right neighborhood but Kenilworth wasn’t the right location. I’m in a real good location now that lends itself more to foot traffic. It’s ironic I’m on the corner of Professor and Literary.”
In addition to a new location on Tremont’s main commercial street, the new space is more open and flooded with natural light. It includes space for an expanded coffee and pastry bar and chairs and tables in the back.
Ferrante says that they gutted the entire floor, formerly a “typical Tremont apartment,” to create the new space. A friend, Jeff Reese, created the café area, tabletops, benches and new display shelving.
“It’s 35% bigger than the old location and less encumbered than the old spot,” says Ferrante. “The old spot was charming but it had lots of nooks and crannies I couldn’t use. This is more open but still charming. I can make my range of books wider, and carry more books at more price ranges.”
As at the old store, Visible Voice will specialize in a half dozen main genres including art, music, poetry, fiction and politics and current affairs, with a combination of new and used books and remainders. Browsers will find sections on such topics as nature, outer space, spirituality, film, graphic novels and “fringe culture.” There’s also a kids’ section.
Ferrante also points to a synergy with Crust downstairs, owned by his cousin Mike Griffith, as one of the new store’s assets. Crust also outgrew its space on Kenilworth, where it had very little seating. It’s now a full-service restaurant. And it’s creating pastries for Visible Voice’s coffeebar.
“When they were across the street, people would order and bring food across street to eat. So it was a natural fit for us to be together,” says Ferrante.
With new books pouring in every day, Ferrante says he plans to be fully stocked in time for the holiday season, adding more gift-type items as well. Patrons will also be happy to know the new spot has its own 26-car parking lot, solving the perennial Tremont issue of tight parking. Visible Voice is open Wednesday through Sunday.