Why Weren’t You Open?

During the transition into our new nonprofit form, some people may have come to the shop when they expected it to be open and been disappointed to find it closed. “What’s going on?” you might wonder.

The new shop is all volunteer run, and we are working as quickly as we can to recruit enough people to get the shop open a good range of regular hours. Our first goal is to be open a few hours weekends, and 11-2 weekdays, which, believe it or not, is the busiest time of the day. Then, we want to build up to get to be open 10-9, 7 days a week. Of course, that is 77 hours a week, and that takes many participants.

What does a volunteer do? A minimum, we just need someone trustworthy to hang out in the shop and be on hand to greet customers as they come by. Some volunteers want to do more, and they help us sort books, keep things neat, arrange displays, and other helpful tasks, but even if you just want to hang out a few hours a week reading a book and being on hand, that is a few more hours that we can have the shop open to the community.

We also need volunteers to run events. We would like to get a board game night running, as well as book clubs on various topics like sci-fi, biography, business, etc. We need someone to take point on organizing these events. It’s not terribly difficult work. You’d just need to be there for the event, make some posts on Meetup and do a bit of other promotion.

If you would like to volunteer for these roles or if you feel you could be helpful in any other way, please email our executive director Michael Whitehouse at michael.g.whitehouse@gmail.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Beginning of a New Era for Monte Cristo

Two months ago, the Monte Cristo Bookshop’s fate was completely up in the air. On August 22nd, it will open its doors as a new nonprofit bookshop.

It was early summer of 2014 when Michael Whitehouse grabbed a three day old paper from his back seat to read. In the business section, an article discussed a bookshop in New London going up for sale because the owners were no longer able to live off the earnings from the store and had to pursue new careers. Michael met with the owners, Chris and Gina, to discuss the possibility of buying the shop. After a couple of days of discussion, Chris called Michael for a fateful conversation, in which he revealed that it had been decided to sell the shop to another bidder. (Wouldn’t be a very dramatic story if it was that simple, would it?)

Michael went off on his merry way, celebrated the birth of his first child Rowan to his lovely wife Amy, and largely put the bookshop out of his mind, until another phone call in early August changed the course of bookshop history in New London forever. It was Chris Jones and he wanted to know if Michael was still interested in the shop.

This time, Chris sent Michael the full financial records to review, and Michael met with Chris and Gina again. As you know, if you are a fan of the Monte Cristo Bookshop, the shop is a wonderful asset to New London. It brings great authors, hosts insightful conversations, and is a cultural resource. It also doesn’t make very much money at all. It makes enough to cover the bills, but not enough to support an owner.

When Michael sat down with Chris and Gina, the conversation came down to one key question: “Are you trying to get money from the shop or are you trying to keep the mission going?” They both immediately replied that the mission was more important. The shop was never about the money, it was always about what they could do for the community. “Good,” answered Michael, “then I have a solution.”

In 2008, Michael oversaw the formation of a nonprofit, volunteer run collective game store in Amherst, Massachusetts known as Worlds Apart Games. The organization exists to this day for the mission of providing a social space for people interested in games and other geeky pursuits. It is entirely volunteer run, and it is self supporting. That same model seemed ideal for Monte Cristo Bookshop as well.

After that meeting, things moved quickly, and on Friday, August 22nd, at 11 AM the Monte Cristo Collective Bookshop will open its doors for the first time. Volunteer run. Nonprofit. A new phase for a cultural institution in the city of New London.

This weekend, we will be celebrating this exciting new transition with a weekend full of activities:

Friday, 5:30 PM - Ribbon cutting with the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce
Saturday, 2:00 PM - Carol Mon presents A Guide to Networking for Introverts
Sunday, 4:00 PM - Nick Checker reads from his new book SCRATCH

All day Saturday (10-8) and Sunday (12-6), we will have our entire inventory of thousands of used books for sale in a sidewalk sale, accompanied by a number of local artists.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Beginning of a New Era for Monte Cristo

Two months ago, the Monte Cristo Bookshop’s fate was completely up in the air. On August 22nd, it will open its doors as a new nonprofit bookshop.

It was early summer of 2014 when Michael Whitehouse grabbed a three day old paper from his back seat to read. In the business section, an article discussed a bookshop in New London going up for sale because the owners were no longer able to live off the earnings from the store and had to pursue new careers. Michael met with the owners, Chris and Gina, to discuss the possibility of buying the shop. After a couple of days of discussion, Chris called Michael for a fateful conversation, in which he revealed that it had been decided to sell the shop to another bidder. (Wouldn’t be a very dramatic story if it was that simple, would it?)

Michael went off on his merry way, celebrated the birth of his first child Rowan to his lovely wife Amy, and largely put the bookshop out of his mind, until another phone call in early August changed the course of bookshop history in New London forever. It was Chris Jones and he wanted to know if Michael was still interested in the shop.

This time, Chris sent Michael the full financial records to review, and Michael met with Chris and Gina again. As you know, if you are a fan of the Monte Cristo Bookshop, the shop is a wonderful asset to New London. It brings great authors, hosts insightful conversations, and is a cultural resource. It also doesn’t make very much money at all. It makes enough to cover the bills, but not enough to support an owner.

When Michael sat down with Chris and Gina, the conversation came down to one key question: “Are you trying to get money from the shop or are you trying to keep the mission going?” They both immediately replied that the mission was more important. The shop was never about the money, it was always about what they could do for the community. “Good,” answered Michael, “then I have a solution.”

In 2008, Michael oversaw the formation of a nonprofit, volunteer run collective game store in Amherst, Massachusetts known as Worlds Apart Games. The organization exists to this day for the mission of providing a social space for people interested in games and other geeky pursuits. It is entirely volunteer run, and it is self supporting. That same model seemed ideal for Monte Cristo Bookshop as well.

After that meeting, things moved quickly, and on Friday, August 22nd, at 11 AM the Monte Cristo Collective Bookshop will open its doors for the first time. Volunteer run. Nonprofit. A new phase for a cultural institution in the city of New London.

This weekend, we will be celebrating this exciting new transition with a weekend full of activities:

Friday, 5:30 PM – Ribbon cutting with the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce
Saturday, 2:00 PM – Carol Mon presents A Guide to Networking for Introverts
Sunday, 4:00 PM – Nick Checker reads from his new book SCRATCH

All day Saturday (10-8) and Sunday (12-6), we will have our entire inventory of thousands of used books for sale in a sidewalk sale, accompanied by a number of local artists.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spring has Sprung!

Howdy bookworms, nosy internet spies, and those wondering what a Monte Cristo is…(sandwich? island? cigar?)

I love reading books. I also like other things like music, exercising, mindless cellphone games, playing with the baby, the Red Sox and posting long nonsensical Facebook posts.

A big thank you to the editors at the New London Day, our local independent newspaper, for their very gracious editorial urging readers to support local independent bookstores. Being in working class downtown New London certainly presents challenges but our own outside-the-box thinking and everlasting community support keeps these lights on. Of course is there weren’t such amazing books being put out by incredible authors, local and national, this effort would be for nothing.

As I am typing there are passerbys pointing at our signs in the window. This one has a Kanye West quote “I am not a fan of books” is almost as popular as our “I like big books and I cannot lie.” Tourists and residents take photos of themselves next to the sign.

The dog days of winter business are behind us. While there wasn’t a single day we went without a customer, we needed something extra to give us a boost. We survived with the support of events. Such as the Cat in the Hat Ball at Mitchell College, Ari Shavit at Beth-El Congregation Synagogue, Jane Green at the Waterford Public Library, Allegra di Bonaventura at Waterford Library, New London Landmarks, East Lyme Historical Society, and Groton Public Library. We look forward to the upcoming Storytelling Festival at Connecticut College, and the Coast Guard Museum opening ceremony in May.

Speaking of May, Suzanne Palmieri, one of my favorite Connecticut human beings…and author, will be doing an event in our shop to kick off our spring event series. It doesn’t get any better than Suzanne. If you’re in a book club and you haven’t read Witch of Little Italy, your book club just ‘ain’t with it, man’

The coffee shop is taking some more time to fully be installed into the store. We have to renovate many more things before we can pipe in that delicious goodness. The front of the store is still setup ready for us to take the next step. Things are complicated and cost money but we will get there. We always get there!

Some cool new books I’ve read recently.
(obviously I’m a nonfiction nerd)

NONFICTION
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
War of the Whales by Joshua Horwitz
The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku
Gulp by Mary Roach

FICTION
Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
The Returned by Jason Mott

See ya!
Chris

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment