WORD: More Than Just A Bookstore

Over the past two years I've had the pleasure of visiting bookstores while promoting my craft books TAPE IT & MAKE IT and TAPE IT & MAKE MORE, many of which are independent. What I've discovered about independent bookstores is that they often double as community centers, offering not only books and the occasional latte but also knitting courses, book clubs for various ages and genders, and tutoring in all subjects. WORD bookstores are such places for their neighborhoods.

There are two WORD locations: the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York, and Jersey City, NJ. I'm a native Brooklynite and I came of age during the 70's and 80's. As a kid, Greenpoint and Jersey City were NOT areas I would visit unless I had to. Greenpoint was a No Man's Land and therefore avoided at all costs. It was easy to do so because only one subway line went there and it was a poorly maintained one. I'm not even sure a bus line ran through it, and don't even ask about access via highway. As for Jersey City, my Filipino family went there to visit other Filipino families, but I never felt safe there--and this is coming from a girl who grew up with a garbage dump on the corner of her block. Today, the fact that an independent bookstore such as WORD exists and thrives in Greenpoint and Jersey City indicates how far they've come. People now seek out these places to live and raise families.

At the Greenpoint location, an entire Girl Scout troop came to see me. Let me repeat that: an ENTIRE Girl Scout troop. My daughter was a Brownie/Girl Scout for a number of years, so I was really impressed that WORD let them come. There were at least 20 girls (and 1 boy who apparently gets dragged to these things all the time--what a patient kid) and their troop leaders who made duct tape wall stickers with me. As a store owner, I would have been worried about the destruction of property. But the troop was respectful and responsible, and even cleaned up after themselves. As I was packing up to leave, I noticed the interaction of the troop leaders, the kids, and the store employees. I could tell that they knew each other well, even some on a first name basis. It made me wish that I lived in Greenpoint.


The Jersey City location is new, and you can see how thoughtful they were about the residents of the area. A lot of young families live in Jersey City. Inside WORD, there is a cafe where you could find many parents with their babies and toddlers. I had a much younger group of kids ranging from 4 to 8 years old. Parent participation was necessary and the projects became a little more "do what you want." We made wall stickers in the shape of butterflies or letters, but also made flowers and clutch bags. As I crafted in the cafe area, I watched people come in and out of the store, baby or stroller in tow. Many stopped to see what we were doing and gave me a wistful glance. I wanted to say, "just you wait; it'll be your turn soon with the child-proof scissors and sticky tape!" I also wanted to say, "it goes by fast, so hug that baby for as long as you can."

A special thanks to CJ and Jen at WORD in Greenpoint (though I think CJ has already left for sunny Cali!) for helping out with the Girl Scout troop, Kirby at WORD in Jersey City for getting me pencils, and Jenn for arranging everything. I hope to be back when my next book comes out!