The Old Dartmouth Bookstore Space Has Found a New Occupant with a Unique Idea – a Bookstore with a Bar
Apr 16, 2019 02:37PM
Photo from The Valley News
We caught up with Levy to chat about her background, her plans for Still North Books & Bar in the future, and lots of other fun topics in this exclusive Q&A.
Here in Hanover Magazine: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background? What got you interested in being an entrepreneur and business owner?
Allie Levy: My background is in bookselling, marketing, and event coordinating. Most recently, I was working in the marketing department of a publishing company in New York. Prior to that, I spent several years working at a bookstore/wine bar in Denver, BookBar, which is my main inspiration for this project.
I’ve been a reader/bookstore lover since I was young—I have fond memories of spending hours on the floor with a stack of books at my local bookstores growing up. Still North and my entrepreneurial journey stem from my love for books and the community surrounding them.
HIHM: How did this opportunity present itself to you?
Levy: I began to think seriously about opening a bookstore in Hanover about a year ago. I was living in Brooklyn at the time. With the Dartmouth Bookstore still in operation, the Norwich Bookstore across the river, and Left Bank Books down the street, there was just no space for a local, independent bookstore selling new books in Hanover. I decided to put the idea on the backburner, but just a few months later, I learned of the closing of the Dartmouth Bookstore and began my early investigations into the viability of a bookstore/bar in Hanover.
HIHM: You went to Dartmouth. Tell us about your time there. Why is this community important to you?
Levy: I majored in English and split my free time between editing the Arts section of The Dartmouth, dabbling in the Book Arts studio, and spending time at my house – a co-ed fraternity. Most importantly, my time at the college gave me the chance to fall in love with the Upper Valley. We’re so lucky to live in an area with so many talented and fascinating people in diverse fields and great intellectual and cultural offerings, all while having immediate access to the outdoors. Most of all, people here care about their community. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived, and I’m so grateful to once again call the Upper Valley home.
HIHM: Aside from this venture, what other activities do you enjoy? Do you have other hobbies?
Levy: I love being outside and being active—yoga, running, hiking, and in a past life, I spent a lot of my time rock climbing, which is something I’ve stepped away from, but hope to get back into now that I’m so close to the Whites! And of course, I love to read—often while curled up with a glass of wine and my cat.
HIHM: Since taking on this opportunity, how have you adapted? What have you learned? What have you done so far in preparation for the opening?
Levy: My experience in bookselling and publishing have been incredibly helpful so far, but I’ve still had a lot to learn as I go. As someone who loves wearing multiple hats, I have really enjoyed the variety of tasks involved with getting Still North up and running. On any given day, I could be working on financial projections, researching local coffee roasters, working with my designer on the physical space, fine-tuning my brand identity, working on my website, building my opening book order, or all of the above.
HIHM: What is the latest in development of the store? What can we expect in the coming months? What's your timeline?
Levy: Fingers crossed for a late 2019 opening! The space is undergoing extensive renovations, but barring any unexpected obstacles, we are on track.
HIHM: Tell us more about the shop itself. What unique things will it have to offer? What are you plans for the future after you open and get settled?
Levy: Think of Still North as a bookstore that happens to have a bar inside. We will stock about 7,500 books curated specifically for the Hanover, Dartmouth, and Upper Valley communities, including literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, children’s and young adult, poetry, local and Dartmouth-affiliated authors, outdoor guides, cookbooks, and more. Any book currently in print not on our shelves, we will be able to order for you in just a few days.
In addition to books, we will offer specialty coffee, local beer, a great wine list, and a menu of small bites and shareable fare. It will be the perfect place to browse for a new read, meet with your book club, spend some time on your laptop, or catch up with a friend. My immediate focus is on getting the space up and running, with a full events calendar to follow. Think: community book clubs, local and national author programming, trivia and game nights, story times, open mics, etc.
HIHM: Is there anything you'd like to say to the community at large?
Levy: Thank you! The excitement surrounding Still North has been beyond what I imagined when I started this process. We ran a successful crowd funding campaign, which ended earlier this month. Thank you to all who contributed—and to everyone that has reached out to express their enthusiasm or wish me well. To anyone that has asked how they can be involved, there will be plenty of ways going forward. The most important thing you can do is come see us soon and often once we open our doors!
It's been really sad to see several local businesses in Downtown Hanover close their doors. However, in my mind, this has also created an opportunity for a new crop of businesses like Still North to breathe new life into the town. I am so thrilled to be a part of this, and I can’t wait to see you in the store!