'It's all about community within these walls': Used bookstore opens in Westport

WESTPORT — For book lovers, a vintage book can be a peek into the past.

On Thursday, the Westport Book Shop will open at 23 Jesup Road with an assortment of such books for the community.

“This is really a passion project. People who love the library, love books, want to be helpful to the Westport community,” said Jocelyn Barandiaran, president of Westport Book Sale Ventures, a non-profit who operates the bookstore and the Westport Library’s annual book sale.

The sales will provide the library additional financial support.

The passion project also fulfills a desire for a book store in town that has been around for a long time, according to Dick Lowenstein, a member of the Book Shop.

“It’s kind of fortuitous in a way. We didn’t know it at the time that Barnes & Noble was going to be a thousand feet away from us,” Lowenstein said, adding the area could become something like a literary corner for residents. “People can buy the new books there, the used books here, and borrow books (at the library).”

Lowenstein said there’s not many used bookstores in the area. But the Westport Book Shop will not only offer more than 5,000 gently used and antiquarian books, it also offers a large array of vinyl records, audio books, CDs and DVDs, he said.

“A good used bookstore has what you call an antiquarian section — scarce or rare books,” Lowenstein said. “It adds something to the whole idea of books it’s more than just something to read, it’s something to collect.”

The Book Shop will be open Thursday and Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. A grand opening is expected to be held in the spring.

Barandiaran said when the mission for the library’s annual book sale was expanded they assumed it would be some years before a bookstore was open. She said several months ago someone floated the idea of a used bookstore to Bill Harmer, the library’s executive director, and soon the ball was rolling.

“We were able to make something that I thought was sort of a long-term plan into a reality,” Barandiaran said, adding the silver-lining to the COVID cloud was the ability to find a vacant space at a reasonable rate.

She said she views the bookstore as something that will become a community space post-COVID.

“It also makes more books more available to more people because the prices are lower because they are used books,” Barandiaran said.

Barandiaran said when the weather is warmer they aim to open the patio outside, which will allow them to expand the number of patrons the shop can entertain.

The Book Shop plans to partner with local nonprofits to highlight their work and will also continue Westport Book Sales Venture’s mission to provide meaningful employment for adults with disabilities.

“There’s a lot of potential here, but it’s all about community within these walls,” Barandiaran said.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com