‘We are all in the same boat.’ After weathering pandemic, Newtonville Books signs new 10-year lease

The bookstore was closed for more than a year due to the pandemic, moving to strictly online and special orders and curbside pickups. It reopened to the public for in-person purchases in July 2021.

“It was just this breath of fresh air,” Cotton said. “We remembered why it was so great to have a bookstore and what it was like to be connected to people in the community.”

When they reopened, Cotton said, customers used gift certificates they had purchased during the closings. The gift cards generated $40,000 in profit, she said.

“They were so good and so nimble that they could jump right into online or phone transactions,” said Chestnut Hill resident and regular Newtonville Books customer Jennifer Huer. “It was so wonderful that they stayed so responsive and so informed about ‘Let’s always serve the community in any way we can. “”

Jennifer Huer, a regular Newtonville Books customer, browses the shelves for a new read. Thalia Lauzon

To sign the new lease, Newtonville Books needed the financial boost of the holiday season, and Cotton said his clients succeeded.

“It was really essential that the people who were already supporting us make those purchases that got us through this extremely difficult time,” Cotton said.

Cotton said she’s excited about the opportunities over the next 10 years, including restarting book events, collaborating with local schools and businesses, and participating in community programs.

For Valentine’s Day, Newtonville Books contributed to LoveFEST, an online platform for people to buy gifts locally and pick them up at Newton Community Pride’s WinterFEST. The store offered customizable gift sets, which could include puzzles, books and greeting cards, depending on the All Over Newton website.

Cotton said being part of events like this emphasizes the “we are stronger together” mentality.

“Whenever there’s a coordinated movement, more people hear about it, more people are aware of it, and more people benefit from it,” Cotton said.

The store has worked with Bowen Cooperative Nursery School and plans to partner with Burr Elementary School to give them days at Newtonville Books where 20% of sales would go to their schools. They also plan to hold AuthorFest, an effort celebrating the importance of children’s books, which will culminate in an in-person book sale for students, Cotton said.

“What Mary and Jaime have done is nothing short of amazing, and I believe a bookstore can be the heart and soul of a community,” said Nick Petrulakis, the store’s bookseller.

Cotton said she values ​​her employees and what they bring to the Newtonville Books experience — so much so that she raised the starting salary above minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“The fact that Newton and Newton Center, in particular, have this bookstore here and have it for the foreseeable future is just great for all of us,” Petrulakis said.

Cotton said she and Clarke called the store their “first child”.

“We see so many connecting moments in the store,” Cotton said. “People come in and they talk to us, but then they start talking to each other and you feel like we’re all in this together and we all want the same things.”

Thalia Lauzon and Belle Fraser can be reached at [email protected]

Newtonville Books moved to Langley Place next to the Newton Center T stop in April 2012.Thalia Lauzon
Newtonville Books sells socks, stickers, toys, wallets and more as well as a wide selection of books. It was recently decorated for Valentine’s Day.Thalia Lauzon