ASBURY PARK – The Asbury Book Cooperative is “bursting at the seams,” but it won’t be for much longer.
The small bookstore is moving across Cookman Avenue to 644-A Cookman, a space that is nearly four times as big. They expect to open in the new store in May.
“It is just going to give us the room that we need to continue to grow,” manager Liza Minno said. “The growth has been happening really organically to the point where we are bursting at the seams at our current space.”
The Asbury Book Cooperative is an outgrowth of words!, an independent bookstore that started in 2008. After the owners retired, the store converted into a member-run cooperative in 2020.
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Now it has more than 500 members who pay an annual fee of between $25 and $200. Members receive discounts on books, have access to special member sales and events, can host book clubs, and start events and programming. They also can volunteer in the store and serve on the store’s board, which governs the store.
”You can go into Target, you can go into Walgreens and get a book, but what you can’t go into there and get is the opportunity to host an event that you are passionate about or start a program or take your kid to a story time or to meet a bookseller who is passionate and can give you a great recommendation,” Minno said.
“People value those things that only small businesses and only community-run businesses can offer,” she said.
The store’s status as a cooperative has helped it grow. Members feel the connection, said Michael Newtown, used book manager. “They feel loyal to the store,” Newton said. “The store feels really alive and very fresh and very exciting.”
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Now Asbury Book Cooperative has outgrown its small space, which is about 500 square feet. The new store, the former Proven Poke restaurant, is 1,995 square feet. “It’s an incredible increase for us,” Minno said.
The new space will give the store the ability to expand its new and used book sections, including nonfiction books. It also will have more space for an office, a new children’s section, and allow for more community events, such as poetry and book readings, book club gatherings, workshops, story times and other events, and more storage.
The cooperative is raising money to help pay for the expansion and renovation project as part of a campaign called “Help Us Grow.” With a goal to raise $25,000, it has already accumulated its initial target of $10,000 to cover renovation costs with money also raised for supplies, shelving and other costs, according to its website.
Minno said she’s “thrilled” with the new location.
“We love being on our block,” she said. “We love our downtown neighbors. This is ideal for us.”
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David P. Willis, an award-winning business writer, has covered business and consumer news at the Asbury Park Press for more than 20 years. He writes APP.com’s What’s Going There column and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join his What’s Going There page on Facebook for updates.