Any “booktok” lover is known for being just as obsessed with their cozy local bookstore as they are with their favorite series and now, Verona residents have their own storybook escape at The Collective Bookstore. Located at 460 Bloomfield Avenue, this small shop is the newest addition to the small businesses on the iconic main street that spans from Newark to West Caldwell. Keep reading to find out what The Collective Bookstore has to offer for readers of all ages and what’s to come in the new year.
About The Collective Bookstore
The Collective Bookstore was founded by Verona residents Josh and Lauren Jacobs, a husband and wife duo who have been working on opening up the store with their two young sons for a year. The team hosted a soft opening of the space in July 2023. “We love reading and we love bookstores and it was really important for us to live in a community with a bookstore. We believe bookstores can be anchors of their communities,” they said.
Read More: A Guide to Bookstores in Essex County
The bookstore is the first of its kind on this section of Bloomfield Avenue, being right across the street from Milkshake Man and next door to Cafe Dolce Maria. Feel free to grab a milkshake or latte before browsing through the shelves of books ranging from Colleen Hoover and Lucy Score to Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe. Any book lover can be sure to find another companion to talk to about their latest obsession — whether it be with one of their passionate workers or another customer — within the warm and inviting atmosphere; a novelty of an experience that online shopping does not provide.
Josh and Lauren also take pride in being another space for people to unwind after work and school. “[It’s] a place where you can escape into a great story, where everyone is welcome, where we can share the love of reading, and gain balance and perspective,” they remarked. One of the handful of workers at the store, Rose Cohen, says her favorite parts about working in a local bookstore are the customers she gets to talk to and looking at the inventory in her off-time. “There’s always someone different walking into the store who is just browsing or looking for a new book to read. I have to say, I do love looking at some picture books when I can,” she said.
Once customers walk into the bookstore, they can immediately find themselves right at home with the smell of printed books and brand-new shelves stocked with new worlds and ideas just waiting to be discovered. New releases, bestsellers, and staff picks are located to the left — along with a game for Banned Books Week when we visited. Pins, keychains, and other original trinkets can be found around the register along with a small gift and vinyl records section. Homemade bookshelves that are categorized by genre then start aligning the walls. An arts and crafts section is on display before leading to a kid’s corner with small chairs, poufs, and plushies from popular children’s books decorating the area rug. From there, non-fiction books, beloved classics, and local interest reads follow the reading nook that sits at the right of the front of the store with a fake fireplace.
What sets The Collective Bookstore apart from other independent bookstores is that the owners built and designed the entire place themselves. Josh assembled all the bookshelves while Lauren paid attention to the details: light fixtures that look like open books decorate the children’s corner while ones resembling streetlamps line the very top of shelves; handwritten blocks depicting genres and hand-drawn flowers on the wall add to the uniquely modern style of The Collective; even the reading area in the front corner of the store was adorned with cobwebs and witches hats for Halloween. Every diverse piece of literature, accessory, and vinyl record is handpicked by the owners, too.
Photo Credit: Josh Jacobs
While the Jacobs’ don’t plan on opening another store anytime soon, they are preparing to keep a busy calendar at the Verona store. Events such as author visits and interviews, a monthly book club, field trip programs, and fundraisers for local organizations are currently underway, and they hope to even host live musicians down the line. The Collective Bookstore is a wonderful spot to browse for your next read, shop for a birthday gift, or just sit down with a friend and chat on the cozy sofas. The store’s fall hours are 10AM-5PM Saturday through Wednesday and 10AM-6PM Thursday and Friday.