There’s nothing like indulging in a good book, and although bookstores have become far from plenty in recent years, there is one bookstore in Montclair that is not going anywhere. Located at 54 Fairfield Street in Montclair, Watchung Booksellers is a community indie bookstore that has been serving the MTC community for over 30 years and is a must-visit (not to mention it’s connected to Italian restaurant Da Pepo). Now, this beloved bookstore has expanded to 44 Fairfield Street, creating a dedicated store for its children’s books. Read on to learn more about the expansion and what we love about Watchung Booksellers.
Back in the beginning of July, Watchung Booksellers shared via Instagram that the kids’ room at the 54 Fairfield Street location was closing and that books and shelves were starting to be moved over to the 44 Fairfield Street location. On July 13th, the bookstore officially announced the expansion to 44 Fairfield Street and that the new spot would be called ‘The Kids Room,’ creating a dedicated kids’ store for customers. The spot also noted that the previous location of the children’s books would become a part of the flagship store, creating space for gifts and more books.
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A few days ago, Watchung Booksellers officially opened up The Kids Room for business. The new spot is open from 10AM-5PM daily.
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All About Watchung Booksellers
“For the love of books” the website reads — an aptly-named mission for this quaint indie bookstore nestled in Montclair. Upon walking in, guests are greeted with the earthy smell of books mixed with the pasta cooking next door at da Pepo. The walls are lined with wooden bookshelves, transforming the cozy space into a reader’s paradise.
The store was first opened in 1991 by Kathy Linsk at a different location. The original bookstore’s location could be found at 33 Watchung Plaza on the second floor above the old Bradner’s Pharmacy.
Separately, just a year later, Margot Sage-EL thought up + created Great Owl Books: Celebrating Our Many Voices, a mail-order catalog aimed at promoting multicultural children’s books. Margot took this spirit of celebrating diversity, and in 1996 — alongside Trina Rogers — bought Watchung Booksellers and became its new owners. Margot couldn’t leave Great Owl Books behind, of course, so she incorporated it into the bookstore and kept it going for a while.
In 2000, Margot became the sole owner of Watchung Booksellers — and soon after, in August 2001, she moved the shop to its current Fairfield location.
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Today, the bookstore continues to celebrate and include many diverse voices in keeping with the mission that began so many years ago. Even a simple glance at the Events Calendar for the month of November illustrates the range of authors and people from different backgrounds, all coming together to share their stories at this local bookstore.
The team also has a combined experience of over 70 years of bookselling — and even strives to read every book in the store, so there’s always someone on the team with some familiarity with any given text. Each book that’s on the shelf has been hand-selected by one of the book-loving staff members (with some input from readers, too), ultimately aiming to have the literature reflect the unique community in Montclair.
“We hope the selection challenges, nurtures, and inspires you,” the website reads.
The spot also regularly features fun events, hosting authors + other creators for the local community to enjoy. You can follow along on the Events calendar to see upcoming happenings as well as register for these events.
At the 54 Fairfield Street location Watchung Booksellers’, readers can expect to find literary fiction; biographies; memories; and books that specialize in travel, education, poetry, and the arts. All of the children’s books are now located at the 44 Fairfield Street location.
Watchung Booksellers’ original location is open from 10AM-7PM Monday through Friday, and from 10AM-5PM on Saturdays and Sundays.