Photo by ELEANORKATH Photography.
This episode is with Abby Glen, the owner and founder of Shelves Bookstore. Shelves just celebrated their 2-year anniversary as an online and pop-up new book store. Shelves started as a pop-up store partnering with local coffee shops when COVID-19 hit. Abby quickly shifted to an online model and has now moved to offering both options to purchase books. Abby has wanted to open a bookstore for a long time but waited until she got out of debt first. In preparation, she did a lot of research online on how to run a bookstore, and started to reach out to local businesses to partner with her.
Abby’s history with books starts back when she was young remembering the encyclopedias in her home and visiting the library often with her family. As a teenager in Philly, she started going to a bookstore and was pleased to find books that she could relate to. Around this same time, she joined a book club through Essence magazine and was delivered “Flyy Girl” by Omar Tyree.
“It was the first time I read a book that I could see myself and my neighborhood, and my friends, and my family, and my school, and everything on the pages.”
From there, Abby began swapping the books around to her friend group, much like she does with her “Reading is a Lifestyle” bookclub. This subscription service launched in February but is not a traditional bookclub. You pick 3 categories of books you are open to and each month you will be surprised with a book from 1 of your 3 categories. They also conduct a monthly zoom hangout where readers discuss their own books and hear about the others that were sent out.
“The only reason I’ve managed to get as far as I’ve gotten to or where I have gotten to is because I stayed curious and I’ve managed to convince a couple of other people to be curious with me.”
Abby enjoys working with people who are serious in changing narratives. She likes people who are curious like her and have an open mind to consider new perspectives or new ways of doing things. She is currently partnered with Enderly Coffee and Mint Hill Roasting Company for her pop ups. As far as her own self-care, Abby enjoys journaling and spending time with friends. She wants to heal Charlotte’s literary scene. Currently, we only have 1 other independent new bookseller and few authors come to town. Abby wants to change that and is looking forward to her brick and mortar store in the future as a gathering space for fellowship, friendship, and camaraderie. She believes by doing this and supporting other small businesses here it creates our city’s culture. She is inspired by author and therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab who recently wrote, “Set Boundaries, Find Peace.”
“It’s your people who determine what the culture’s gonna be and your small businesses set the tone of a city.”
Visit their website to purchase books or join the bookclub. If you live in Mecklenburg County, local pickup is available at Enderly Coffee, some areas are eligible for local delivery, or you can have your books shipped anywhere. Follow along on social media or subscribe to the newsletter for all information including the next pop-up location.