Julie Whittemore, deputy director of operations at the Capitol Theater in Rome, is about to start a new chapter.
While recently noting the hustle and bustle that was starting to build up downtown with the Capitol Theater and Cinema Capitol entertainment offerings, children attending nearby music and dance lessons, art exhibitions, restaurants and more. cafes, she wanted to be part of this thriving arts community.
Combining both his passion for silent films and books, Whittemore decided to open the Keaton & Lloyd bookstore in the downtown arts district, named after two comedians from the silent movie era.
“I started volunteering for the Capitol Theater when I was in high school. At the time, I obviously loved the theater, but the neighborhood was a little gloomy, ”said Whittemore. “I’ve seen retailers and restaurants move in and out just as quickly. But for the past few years, I’ve been working downtown every day. I am amazed. “
She said: “We now have several music studios, dozens of studio artists who come here as part of the Rome Art Association, a wide range of films and shows, outdoor art classes, etc. They are successful and there is demand. People come from far and wide to participate. I truly believe that Rome has found its place as a city of art.
As so many different art forms begin to be represented in the Downtown Arts District, Whittemore said she recognizes that one thing is still missing: a place where local authors can come and give readings and talks to help support their work.
The new owner of the store said she also wanted to offer a “local” option to buy new and used books, as well as products and other book-related products. Whittemore said she could now pinpoint the location of the store, which is former Brenda’s Natural Foods, right next to the Capitol. The shop will also be stocked with a well-curated selection of bookish items “suitable for gifts and self-indulgence”. As a social enterprise, several of the items offered in the store will be made locally, and later Whittemore said she hopes to host additional programs such as poetry readings and open mic nights.
“We have organizations dedicated to all other artistic mediums, but there are hundreds of amazing authors right here in the Mohawk Valley,” said Whittemore. “I want to offer a place to exhibit their work. I also want to provide a resource for people who prefer to shop locally rather than going out of town or buying books online. In fact, a lot of people don’t have a car or internet access, so this is the only option they have. I want there to be a retailer nearby that offers high quality products at reasonable prices, and where friends can both meet to have a good time and boost the local economy.
As for possible future programming, “I think it will take a bit of time to figure out exactly what types of programs work, but I like the idea of bringing in writers to discuss their own projects and do book signings. pounds, ”she said. “I also look forward to working with organizations like the Capitol Public Library and Jervis, which has already supported me a lot, to present joint programs to some extent. “
Whittemore first announced her new business venture on social media and so far the response from community members has been greater than she had hoped for, she said.
“As soon as I made the first post to my store on Facebook, I got an amazing response. People are asking for a bookstore in Rome and I’m really thrilled to be the one offering it to them,” said Whittemore. “People even offer to participate and help. I get social media order requests and interview requests on my opening.”
After so many years of volunteering, and then working, for the Capitol Theater, Whittemore wanted to honor her growing love for movie history, and she said it felt natural to give her bookstore a silent movie theme. .
“Giving the store a movie theme allows me to merge my two passions into one exciting business,” she smiled.
So far, several people have asked if Keaton & Lloyd will be presenting a coffee, but Whittemore said she doesn’t know yet.
“I’m considering buying some hot drinks and maybe some baked goods made in central New York City, but I still have a lot to discover in the next couple of months,” she said. “Food and drink could be something better to do later. “
As for the books, “I will offer everything from Manga to presidential history. The environment will be quite mature, but I will offer a unique selection of children’s books. I believe my children’s section will be a great opportunity for me to infuse the work of CNY authors, as there are so many who enjoy posting material for children.
For those who prefer digital books, Whittemore has formed a relationship with Hummingbird Digital Media.
“Users can download an app called My Must Reads, select Keaton & Lloyd Bookshop as their local shore, and download e-books and audiobooks,” she said. “A portion of the sale arrives in store and the user has immediate access to the digital content.”
As Whittemore began to receive boxes of books to fill her new store, she said she was also excited to see shipments of any other “book” items that will be available for purchase.
“As my stock of books grows, I have already received many other products that I plan to sell,” said the store owner. “These include bookish socks from the Socksmith Company, greeting cards and stickers made by the cultural workers of Syracuse, a variety of literary-inspired puzzles, and locally made candles. “
If all goes according to plan, Whittemore said she plans to open her business in the third week of October.
In honor of his love for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Whittemore will also be offering Harry Potter books, backpacks, notebooks, mugs and puzzles.
“I got the message ‘Why books? It will not be profitable ”, several times. Having lived in the nascent Arts District for several years now, I can honestly say that I am amazed at our success, ”said Whittemore. “Our community is special in every way, and I feel the love. We have the cinema, we have the studio arts, we have the performing arts… now it is time for the literary arts to shine.
To view the latest developments from Keaton & Lloyd Book Shop, visit https://www.facebook.com/keatonandlloyd/. For a digital selection of books, the proceeds of which will go to Keaton & Lloyd, order at: https://keatonandlloyd.mymustreads.com.