Home Culture Iris: A Must-Visit Book + Paper Goods Store in Montclair

Iris: A Must-Visit Book + Paper Goods Store in Montclair

by Francesca DiPisa
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The digital age may be upon us, but that doesn’t automatically mean “old-fashioned” hobbies are out of style. Browsing paper goods is still a go-to activity for any scrapbook lover, and bookstores remain the ideal spot for any meet-cute. Combine these trends and the result is Iris, an independent book and paper shop located on the first floor of 25 Valley Road in Montclair. From supplying the most niche kinds of books and zines to housing different trinkets and wrapping paper, Iris proves to be the best game of hide-and-seek for any shopping lover. Keep reading to find out the inspiration behind the shop that’s been thirty years in the making and what kind of fun content the store supplies.

iris bookstore montclair

About Iris

Jaime Rugh is the brains and heart behind Iris, a brainstormed idea living in her mind since she honed in on her artistic abilities in high school. She grew up in Philadelphia where her mother owned a gourmet food and gift shop and where she worked and learned about managing a small business. After studying art in college and networking with other creatives around the world, she followed the traditional route of getting married, moving to South Orange, and prioritizing having children. Throughout motherhood, Jaime still pursued art as a career while collecting artistic pieces that she found interesting. Fast-forward twenty-something odd years later, and she found herself experiencing some empty-nest feelings — she was trying to find, as she puts it, “the next part of my life.”

iris bookstore montclair interior

The Ivy at Chatham

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In 2021, she decided to make her withstanding dream a reality as she opened an online store highlighting the many books, stationery, and art supplies she collected over the years. “I didn’t want to be like other bookstores. I wanted to utilize the connections I had from overseas with small presses and artists.” As the online store became more successful and her kids were going off to college, Jaime sought out a storefront location for her business and luckily found a great spot across the street from The MC Hotel in the heart of Montclair. Jaime told MG, “The small space works. Everyone in the community is so nice and welcoming!”

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Jaime’s goal is to have something for everyone when it comes to interests, price points, and different demographics. The store is mostly favored by 15-30-year-olds visiting after their school day, college-aged art students from Montclair State University, or friends coming back from brunch. Topics that the store supplies in its book sections have also played a factor in young adults sitting in the back of the store since there are shelves dedicated to sexuality, gender studies, and poetry. The used books and antique pieces, however, cater to all customers. “We’re told what’s good, but I want people to decide what’s good for them. I always ask myself while stocking the store, ‘What’s something they haven’t seen?’” Jaime said.

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Upon walking into the store, customers can find themselves thrown in a book haven accompanied by a wall of greeting cards, baskets of different wrapping paper, and a chest filled with scrapbooking supplies. The shelves of books in the front of the store span topics from art and design to music and poetry — the kinds of genres Jaime initially focused on in her collection. The back of the bookstore includes the expansion of her discoveries, which consists of a selection of zines spanning an array of topics, a children’s section filled with handmade crochet dolls, and niche international finds and cookbooks.

iris bookstore montclair toys

Iris is a true culmination of Jaime’s life, as she told MG that her closest friends and family have described it as an extension of her personality. The name of the store was an idea of her son’s as she has incorporated flowers in her artwork throughout her career; it’s also an “ever-changing acronym” (“I Read It Somewhere”) and holds many special meanings for Jaime. She hopes that any patron can inspire people to return and create according to their passions. Jaime plans on having artistic workshops, visits from small press businesses, and showcasing her artwork. Iris is open Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 12PM to 5PM as well as Friday and Saturday from 11AM to 5PM. It’s closed on Monday and Tuesday and its online store is available 24/7.

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