QUEENS — Less than two years after the Forest Hills Barnes & Noble closed its doors, its three former employees are ready to open their own independent bookstore in Kew Gardens.
“If everything goes the right way,” the 700-square-foot space, at 81-63 Lefferts Blvd., will open sometime in September, said Holly Nikodem, one of the women behind the initiative.
Earlier this month, the team held two meet-and-greet events, which attracted more than 300 people, allowing them to take a sneak peek at the store.
“It was heartwarming," said Nikodem who, along with her two colleagues, Vina Castillo and Natalie Noboa, decided to open their own bookstore after the closing of Barnes & Noble.
"So many people came in, not just from Kew Gardens, but from all over Queens, to congratulate us," she added.
The team initially wanted to name the store “Forest Bookshop,” but later changed their mind because another New York store has a similar name, they said.
The space will be called "Kew & Willow Books" instead, which also includes the tree theme as well as a reference to the neighborhood that has become their new home, the group said.
Photo: Courtesy of The Queens Bookshop initiative
During the recent events, locals were able to see only the first six feet of the store, as the entire space will be unveiled during a grand opening party next month, the team said.
The opportunity to see the complete space, before it becomes available to the public, was among the rewards offered to donors who participated in a Kickstarter campaign for the initiative last year.
The group raised more than $72,000 through the online campaign.
The bookstore, the first one in Kew Gardens in more than three decades, will sell a little bit of everything, including fiction and non fiction, as well as children's books, the owners said.
It will also include a section featuring Queens writers, which “will change each month to accommodate as many local authors as possible to give everybody a fair shot at being exposed,” Nikodem said.
Currently, there is only one English-language bookstore in Queens — The Astoria Bookshop.
Book Culture, a bookstore with three locations in Manhattan, recently announced that it's also planning to open a new location in the borough.