Old Greenwich residents, rejoice. A new independent bookstore, Athena Books, is set to open on Sound Beach Avenue in early December.
For a decade, residents have mourned the loss of their last independent bookstore in Old Greenwich, Just Books on Arcadia, which closed in 2011.
Greenwich resident Jennifer Bird, who will co-own Athena Books with husband Odysseas Kostas, said that during Covid her family spent a lot of time in bookstores and at home reading. She said she believed people made a concerted effort to move away from reading on devices.
“During Covid, we were going to bookstores all the time. It was one of the only things we could do,” Bird said. “I think during the pandemic, people really enjoyed the physical feel of a book as opposed to reading on devices.”
“We went to one bookstore, and I turned to Odysseas and suggested opening a bookstore in Old Greenwich.”
Bird and Kostas are both entrepreneurs. She runs a legal search firm with partners, and Kostas, who grew up in Riverside, is a doctor who served the community for many years before transitioning into finance several years ago.
“Odysseas said he had always wanted to work in a bookstore,” Bird said.
From there, Bird reached out to commercial realtor Diane Roth of Allied and learned that 228 Sound Beach Avenue, formerly home to CM Almy, makers of church supplies, had become available.
“The space is beautiful and has enough room for events and gatherings,” Bird continued. “The idea is to have both a bookstore and an evening gathering space for a variety of events. People can even host their book clubs there.”
Bird went on to explain the inspiration for the store’s name.
“My husband is Greek and we have two daughters,” she said. “Athena is the Greek Goddess of Wisdom. She is a a strong female figure, and we thought that it would be a great name for the bookstore.”
“We want Athena Books to be a gathering space for the entire community and a source of inspiration,” Bird added.
With a look to early December for opening, Bird said she and Kostas were busy selecting books for adults, and children – both fiction and non fiction.
“We’ve had conversations with school media specialists and want to make sure to offer books that teachers recommend and children enjoy,” she said, adding that they plan to create a teacher-librarian recommended section. They also plan to sell cards, notebooks and gifts.
Ms Roth from Allied said, “As a leasing agent, I think Athena Books will be an amazing addition to the specialty retail district of Old Greenwich. The village has become a unique shopping destination.”
“It’s a great place to spend the day and shop the unique stores. A bookstore in particular will become the heart and soul of the community.”
Until the store opens next month, people who would like to support Athena Books can visit their webpage at bookshop.org – https://bookshop.org/shop/athenabooksog – Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to support independent bookstores.
Bird described bookshop.org as “like an Amazon for independent bookstores.”
It also has an indie-friendly affiliate program for writers, publishers, book clubs and media partners.
Bird and Kostas have created several recommendation lists for the holidays, but it is also possible to use the search function on bookshop.org to find other books desired. Enter the site HERE, and 30% percent of sales will go to support Athena Books.
Follow AthenaBooks on Instagram at @AthenaBooksOG for updates in the run up to the official launch.