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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, May 2, 2019 3 weeks ago

Writer’s Block Bookstore relocating to new space along Park Avenue

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The bookstore in downtown Winter Park will have a new space with more room and flexibility.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

Winter Park’s downtown bookstore is ready to turn to a new page.

Plans are underway for Writer’s Block Bookstore to relocate from its location at 124 E. Welbourne Ave. to a highly visible space along Park Avenue. 

The store hopes to attract more bookworms at its new location at 316 N. Park Ave. — the current location of The Impeccable Pig, which will be opening a new store at 335 S. Park Ave. in the fall, according to The Impeccable Pig Marketing Director Cameron Van Patten.

The move is a dream come true for Writer’s Block Bookstore owner Lauren Zimmerman, who opened her bookstore on Welbourne Avenue in September 2014 and always wanted to have a location along the main stretch in downtown Winter Park.

“I am over-the-moon excited,” Zimmerman said. “When I opened the bookstore five years ago, I knew the rents were very high on Park Avenue and that we really needed to be on the Avenue. … We were always on the lookout to buy a building.

“I was hesitant when I found out about the building, because making the commitment was hard enough,” she said. “Making a commitment to a building on Park Avenue is crazy. I walked down there hoping that I would not like it, hoping that the decision would be made for me. I walked in, and it had these beautiful concrete floors, white walls, high ceilings, and I walk all the way to the back, and there’s this gorgeous covered patio with these wide-open French doors. … I said to myself, ‘Oh no, I’m in trouble, because I like it a lot.’”

The new location also means more space, going from 1,200 square feet in the old store to about 1,700 square feet. It’ll be a more a flexible space as well, Zimmerman said, because the shelving will be on wheels so it can be moved around to make room for author events such as signings and readings.

“I’m going to New York and meeting with all of the top five publishing houses — (Penguin) Random House, Hachette, Macmillian, (HarperCollins), all of them — and we’re sitting down and we’re going to go through it and talk about the new space and try to get them to send me big authors for events for the new store,” Zimmerman said. “It’s going to be crystal clear in the new space that the space is designed to house events.”

Zimmerman added the new location will include a coffee bar, a wine bar, a children’s treehouse play area and plenty of places to sit and curl up with a good book — all coming together in a design that will have a modern, colorful flair.

“It’s going to be Pinterest-worthy,” Zimmerman said. “I’m thinking of it through the eyes of a designer. When people come in, their impression is going to be that this is a beautiful space.”

It’s all about giving patrons a unique bookstore experience — one that keeps them coming back to find their next book instead of shopping online, Zimmerman said.

“You can’t get the community and you can’t get that literary experience sitting there punching a few keys — that’s not what the total experience is supposed to be,” she said. “You’re supposed to be sitting here staring at the shelves for hours, pulling a book out, reading the backside of it or just having a conversation in a bookstore about what’s a great book. Bookstores are just different. They’re like pieces of heaven.”

Zimmerman said the bookstore will celebrate the grand opening of its new location in late September or early October.

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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