Andrew Walker and Ollie Bird found each other — and themselves — through books.
Now, they are sharing their mutual love of literature with the Baldwin Park community.
“My love for books just always seemed to come naturally,” Walker says. “Books were something that I could always connect with and something that was always there — no matter what. Even if that love waxes or wanes, it has always been part of my life.”
The couple recently opened their brick-and-mortar used bookstore Joybird Books at the end of November on Small Business Saturday.
Joybird Books, located on the outskirts of Baldwin Park on Corrine Drive, is focused on bringing together local authors and artists to share their work and celebrate the spirit of art, literacy and community in a collaborative space.
The community already is taking notice of what is now the city of Orlando’s only independently owned used bookstore.
“What inspires the most passion for being in the business of building a neighborhood space around books is the overwhelmingly positive community response,” Bird says. “It’s one thing for us to make an observation that this sort of store is something people want more of, or to gauge an economic value of the store based on demand, but it’s another thing to have people and families of all ages and from all different backgrounds come in and, without us asking them to or expecting anything from them, build the community with us. It’s as if they were just waiting for us to get there.”
The area has been hungry for a used bookseller; many in the surrounding areas have failed.The closest used bookstores are in Longwood or Casselberry.
“Opening our own store was always one of those far-off, ‘Oh, wouldn’t that be so cool’ sort of things, so it was never a real concrete thing until recently,” Walker says.
What started off as just a dream has now turned into the couple’s reality.
Less than a year ago, Walker decided to put a bid in for an auction event taking place at a university in Georgia. The library was attempting to weed out 10,000 books.
“I put in a little chance bid, thinking, ‘Oh, wouldn’t that be cool?’” he says. “And then I ended up getting it. That’s where the adventure first started.”
Books always have been a part of Walker’s and Bird’s lives. Bird worked at the Orange County Public Library, Winter Park Library and other local bookstores. The two also have a strong passion for poetry and have had several poems published.
Walker participated in art and literary magazines while in college and graduated from UCF with an English degree. He still works full-time remotely as a technical writer, on top of helping to co-own the shop.
The used bookstore hosts a variety of books from fiction to nonfiction, poetry, children’s books, rare books, self-help books, audiobooks and more.
“I feel like used books are more accessible for everyone because you don’t have to be price motivated when making a selection,” Walker says. “We have flat pricing so for example our paperbacks are all $5. We’re not looking to make a huge profit, because obviously it’s a used bookstore, it’s not going to make a huge profit, but having the space and being able to connect with the community is really the ultimate goal.”
Looking ahead in the future, the couple hopes to expand their community programming even more.
The used bookstore currently hosts storytime at 11:30 a.m. every Friday.
The owners also have a projector and would love to do book-to-screen movies on or even set up a stage at the front for open-mic nights or poetry nights. The back office space has the potential to eventually be rented out for meetings or for local authors.
“It’s very inspiring to feel the outpouring of love and connection from our neighborhood,” Bird says. “I think that’s what really drives the passion and quantifies the value of our space. This feeling that it’s not just mine and Andrew’s, and it’s not just another store, but that our being here really means something for our community. I really look forward to growing with them.”
3018 Corrine Drive • (407) 951-5436 • joybirdbooks.com
EMAIL: [email protected]