Whether because of a need to support entrepreneurial endeavors or an obligation to sustain localism, independent bookstores nationally are thriving. Flyleaf Books of Chapel Hill is no different.
With shelves of new and used books for both adults and children, Flyleaf Books is the go-to indie bookstore for many. For the past eight years, owner Jamie Fiocco has been buying books, planning events, providing jobs and maintaining a safe space for Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents.
Having grown up in Chapel Hill herself, Fiocco says the town plays an influential role on the store and its inventory.
“We are very much rooted in this community,” Fiocco said. “We’re really able to understand our community better than most stores that aren’t based here. We’re able to respond to community events and issues more quickly and to reflect our community and feature things that are important.”
Just as the store is designed to resonate with locals, the people of Chapel Hill work just as hard to give back to the store, said manager and adult book buyer Lane Jacobson. He said the town itself benefits off of individuals understanding the power of living local.
“This is a community that’s kind of tailor made to support a bookstore like this," Jacobson said. “People are aware now more than ever of the importance of shopping locally, and obviously independent bookstores benefit from that, but so do a lot of other small businesses, and Chapel Hill and Carrboro are great examples of what can happen when you keep your dollars local.”
Jacobson said that as a buyer, he does try to stock the shelves with books that coincide with community ideals. However, he also loves to expose people to new ideas by pushing people to buy books out of their comfort zone.
This concept resonates with a mission that has been a part of Fiocco since she first opened the store in 2009 — a mission to provide people with both what they want and what they don’t know they want. She said the capabilities of her staff make that possible.
“My goal is to connect people in the community with ideas so that they can learn new things and learn about new things and decide how they feel about things, so education and free flow of information,” Fiocco said. “It’s a place where we want people to come and talk about things and make our community stronger and better through talking to people that you might not know and agree with. It’s a place of discovery and it’s a safe place and it’s a place to exchange ideas.”
In addition to providing the community with a large book collection, Flyleaf Books also hosts close to 300 events a year to appease a wide range of interests. These events include, but are not limited to, author signings, story times, speakers and poetry events.
Amanda Ibarra, the store’s events manager, said out of all their events, she likes author readings the most because they really put a face behind the beauty of each book and remind people that literature is an ongoing industry.
Ibarra explained that like most aspects of the store, the public events are tailored to the community. She said the events are meant to excite while also introducing people to new books or concepts.
“Our mission is to provide a space where people can feel like they can come and further their own education and knowledge,” Ibarra said. “We seek to provide all sides of issues for independent learning.”
As time goes on and the push to support localism continues, Flyleaf Books hopes to expand its reach to more individuals through more events and an upgraded used section of the store. By working with and for the community, the store manages to stay competitive against the corporate world.
"I love the idea of exchanging ideas with people and sharing a book with someone," Fiocco said.
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