Early patrons give good reviews to Still North Books & Bar

by Caitlin McCarthy | 1/7/20 2:00am

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Still North Books and Bar held a soft opening on Dec. 19.

by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth

The town of Hanover once again has a bookstore. Still North Books & Bar, which occupies some of the space formerly used by the Dartmouth Bookstore, held a soft opening on Dec. 19. The store’s owner, Allie Levy ’11, said that there will be additions to the store’s food and beverage selection over the next few months, with a grand opening celebration in the works for February.

The Dartmouth Bookstore closed in December 2018, with Wheelock Books following shortly thereafter, leaving the College and the community at large without a store dedicated to selling new books.

Enter Levy, the former event coordinator of the similar-in-concept BookBar in Denver. She said she was working in publishing and spending more time in the Upper Valley when she started to think about opening an independent bookstore in Hanover. She added that the Dartmouth Bookstore was still operating at the time. 

“The idea came before the opportunity,” Levy said, adding that once the Dartmouth Bookstore closed, her idea was able to come to fruition.

The bookstore offers places to sit and work, as well as coffee or tea from the bar. Levy added that the store is also in the process of acquiring a beer and wine license. 

Though the store does not have the space to stock course books like Wheelock Books once did, Levy said the store is “starting to experiment” with book orders for College courses.

English and creative writing professor Peter Orner is ordering books for his class this term through Still North.

“I look at a bookstore as a cultural resource — ­and one that keeps contemporary literature alive,” Orner said. “You can’t really know what’s going on out there in the world of literature — and really the world in genera — without a bookstore that is giving you access to the new books that are being written.” 

The bookstore features “staff picks,” as well as a current table of former President Barack Obama’s book recommendations. Orner praised the “diverse selection of books,” as well as the curation.

“You can feel that somebody knows contemporary literature by when you browse the shelves,” he said.

Levy said she envisions Still North as a “third place … a place outside of work or home that people can come together and just be.” 

She added that the store was excited to work with the College to act as a “supplemental space for gatherings [and] talks,” as well as with students “on events that they’d like to see here, so like open mics.” She floated the possibility of hosting an a capella group or an improv group for a show, adding that the flexibility of the space makes this easier.

Lindsey Reitinger ’20, who was in the bookstore on Sunday afternoon, praised the presence of the bookstore.

“I live off campus, so it’s kind of like a middle point for me, and so I can see myself definitely coming here to work, grab a coffee, meet friends,” she said. “It’s a nice space.”

Victoria Meyer ’20 agreed, saying that the store is a “nice change of pace because they have puzzles and books and it’s more interactive than just going to a coffee shop.” 

She added that she was looking forward to the space as an “off-campus evening scene” once the store received its beer and wine license.

Bookstore manager Nichole Cousins added that this week, she has seen “a lot more people just coming in to sit down and hang out or do work or meet up with people, and that’s perfect, because that’s the kind of space that we wanted to provide.”

Levy agreed, saying that they had intentionally designed the space with the hope that people would see the Still North as more than just a bookstore.

Levy said the response from the community has been highly positive.

“I knew the community was excited, but the response was so beyond what I expected … we had sold way higher volume than we had originally expected,” she said. 

She added that she saw a lot of support from Hanover and Upper Valley residents, as well as from college faculty ­— particularly those belonging to the English department.

David Brooks ’71 and his wife Patricia stopped in to sit, get hot drinks and look at the book selection before spending more time in town. They emphasized how important it was to support local businesses.