Lizzo blasted off a set of Bluetooth speakers as shoppers wandered into the brand-new Possible Futures bookstore, browsing the shelves and enjoying the artwork.
New Haven’s newest independent bookstore opened its doors in the Edgewood neighborhood on August 22. They provide a space where shoppers can open book covers, work, wander or simply relax in one of the many upholstered chairs.
For Lauren Anderson, potential futures were the culmination of a 10-year journey. Anderson quit her job as a former tenure professor to fulfill a lifelong dream of running a library. After running a former store, Anderson decided to move her business closer to her own community. I started looking for new places and formulating business plans in January.
After months of waiting for zoning approval, the space was finally approved for business. Possible Futures is conveniently located in the heart of the Edgewood neighborhood, with both the 246 CT Transit bus line and bike lanes running right past their doors.
Possible Futures sells books, but Anderson has made it a priority as a community space. I explained how the store was committed to making itself open to everyone. The storefront is airy, with plush sofa chairs and tables scattered among the bookshelves, and has an ADA-accessible bathroom and back parking. Anderson said the store is a place where “people in the neighborhood can just come to hang out and talk.”
The spirit of open doors also extends to the shelf space. The books have been formatted to feature underrepresented authors, with an emphasis on titles that haven’t always featured in New York Times reviews and bestseller lists. Anderson explained that in a publishing industry dominated by white authors, too many books often slip through loopholes.
“What’s here reflects our community and offers a bit of association with some of the books elsewhere,” Anderson told The News. To maintain a selection of businesses that best reflect society’s diversity, she regularly seeks advice from clients and neighbors alike.
Today, first-time shoppers can find titles ranging from WEB DuBois’ Black Reconstruction in America.“ To “The Subsequent Parties” by Anthony Visino Sue. Books by up-and-coming authors line up alongside familiar bestsellers, providing readers with a chance to explore. On the far right wall, the shop displays artwork from a rotating group of local artists; Featured artists can choose book titles that center around the theme of their pieces.
Anderson continued to return to contact and community as the cornerstone of her work. While Possible Futures is emerging as another bookstore in the New Haven literary scene, Anderson has repeatedly reiterated that it is rooted in her neighborhood.
When talking about the store’s role in the Edgewood community, Anderson stressed the importance of “listening to people… about what they want the space to be.” Keeping the space open to all encouraged her to partner with organizations such as the Pride Center.
The intimacy of the store did not go unnoticed.
“Convenience stores are more special than Barnes and Noble stores,” said Ben McManus, an Edgewood local. “The shop has its own personality…and having the option to actually sit is a big plus.”
Income of the local population. Some have wandered inside while walking, some have visited after cycling in the past, and others have recently discovered the store on Instagram. Among them, local resident Mark Abraham admired the store’s selection of children’s books while scanning new books for his children.
“I found new joy in children’s books…about race and gender, and things I hadn’t read about as a child,” added Carolina Ksiazyk15, another local resident and librarian.
Many shoppers admitted that the intimacy of their personal book shopping experience has also given them the freedom to stumble across new titles and authors for themselves.
“It’s a relief to be able to stop at a lark and look for books without having to be on screen all day,” Abraham said.
The store was finding new ways to interact with the community. Just two weeks into the business, Possible Futures already has plans to host “book lunches,” author readings, and more local events.
“I believe in living where you work, working where you live, and knowing people,” Anderson said.
Possible Futures is located at 318 Edgewood Ave.