Bluestocking Social bookstore offers art, literature and company for those who love them.
Step through the bright blue door next to Rust and Ruby salon, descend downstairs past painted Victorian ladies in equally blue frames and you will find yourself in Bluestocking Social’s subterranean book den.
Opened August 1st by Annie Fitzpatrick and Matt Fitzpatrick, the shop sells a combination of books, art supplies and art from local artists, who rotate on a monthly basis.
Starting an art supply store first occurred to Matt Fitzpatrick, an art teacher, when Blick Art Materials closed in 2018. But he and Annie Fitzpatrick didn’t consider the idea seriously until this June, just two months before they brought it to reality.
With time on their hands in COVID quarantine, the couple originally wanted to open a mobile bookstore they could operate on weekends. But after a few weeks of shopping for vans and busses, they decided they wanted not only the cost efficiency, but the commitment, of a brick and mortar store.
“We decided that if we were going to do this, we needed to go all out,” Matt Fitzpatrick said.
So they set to work, with Annie Fitzpatrick ordering stock and Matt Fitzpatrick crafting plywood bookcases and displays on the shop floor. A month after signing the lease, their whirlwind of effort paid off at their grand opening, in which they nearly sold out of stock.
Matt Fitzpatrick credits the shop’s initial success largely to an article run by Courier and Press and the help of social media.
But Bluestocking Social feels very local, as many of its customers come from the surrounding neighborhood, including UE.
“We have one kid who I think is a student at UE, and every time he’s come in, he’s brought in like two or three new people with him. They all just disperse through the store,” Annie Fitzpatrick said.
To further cultivate this sense of community, the owners hope to begin holding events in the store once COVID passes. They are already planning several book clubs in different styles to accommodate participants’ varying levels of experience and interest.
“Even owning a bookstore, I’m intimidated by a book club…So I think we’re trying to make people comfortable. Like people who get really heavily into it can have their book club, or people who just want to read and hang out can have theirs,” Matt Fitzpatrick said.
For both owners, the best part of running Bluestocking Social is seeing the enthusiasm of visitors, whether that means posting their purchases on social media or coming back with their friends.
“It’s when people come in, and they’re genuinely as excited about the books and the store and everything as we are,” Annie Fitzpatrick said.