Roebling Point Books & Coffee opens new location in Newport, just in time for small businesses on Saturday


Roebling Point Books & Coffee’s new location in NewportPhoto: Supplied

Two years ago, Covington’s only bookstore and cafe almost closed for good. The ten-year-old store – cherished by locals and visitors alike – was threatened by a significant increase in rents, the constant construction and closure of its main thoroughfare, the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.

Fortunately for Roebling Point Books & Coffee, the high market rates and constant development around the area did not live up to the boutique’s popularity and beloved neighborhood status. Owner Richard Hunt made a deal with the owner, who saw the benefit of keeping the facility open, and they came to an agreement on the rent.

So, Hunt’s initial search for a new location ended up being the search for a second location. Once the options were available, he made the final decision to open the second Roebling Books & Coffee in Newport.

Currently, Hunt and his team are spending a lot of time unpacking the roughly 25,000 pounds needed for the new location while waiting for November 27, this year’s Small Business Saturday and the official opening of the Newport location.

“A city needs a bookstore like a body needs a soul,” says Hunt CityBeat. “I think reading strengthens a sense of community and if you really want to have a neighborhood or city that can be proud of itself and the work it does, a bookstore can be your greatest resource.”

Covington’s flagship location has always provided free meeting space for community groups and organizations, an offer that is regularly seized by locals and which Hunt will replicate in Newport.

“We’ve always hosted, for example, Kentuckians for Commonwealth events,” he says. “The community hall had 20 meetings a week before COVID. And that’s where I think the “soul” part comes in. When you have six to 12 to 15 people getting together to talk about a topic that they are passionate about and want to change, that’s a soul. . “

Just across the Licking River, far enough to coexist with the Covington store but close enough to be managed, Roebling Books & Coffee in Newport effortlessly blends into the neighborhood. At the corner of Sixth and Overton streets, a large outdoor foyer welcomes guests while the interior offers two large rooms with an industrial and comfortable atmosphere. And with the plan to offer a great fiction section with rare and archaic books and entire collections from some authors, this second location is not just a bonus, it is a necessary one.

Exposed bricks shoot out from behind the shelves lining the walls, which will launch a new method of displaying books that Hunt is particularly excited about. The books at the Newport site will be organized with the covers facing outward, a sales-boosting tactic, Hunt says.

AC1Richard Hunt Roebling Point Books Katie GriffithRichard Hunt, owner of Roebling Point Books & Coffee, outside Covington flagship locationPhoto: Katie Griffith

“After being in publishing for so long, we spend a tremendous amount of time talking about cover,” he says. “On the spine you get half an inch and four words, but it doesn’t have the immediacy or the impulse to pick it up. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been to 500 bookstores across the country, and the people who really use covers sell more books, they have more people buying them.

But books won’t be the only thing to attract customers. Bagels from Covington’s longtime store neighbor Lil’s Bagels will be sold along with other small bites and even soft serve ice cream.

Of course, as the name of the store suggests, coffee will still be available and Hunt is hoping to make more meaningful connections with other small businesses in the area the same way he did in Covington. A dedicated cyclist, Hunt has named Reser Bicycle Outfitters as his target. The facts are not yet set, but the three companies have come together enough to reimagine the age-old three Rs – reading, “writing and” calculating “- to” Read, roll and roll, “Hunt says, relating the phrase to the books, bikes and bagels, while enjoying the opportunity to breed.

Newport-based author Sheila Williams has had the support of Roebling Point Books & Coffee for years and, as a regular customer of the Covington store, says she is thrilled to see a second location, especially so close to her home .

“They organize the books very carefully,” she says. “I’ve done a book event or two with Roebling Point and of course the nature of the bookstore is it’s an independent so you won’t necessarily have that many people but the people who are in the audience are from great support and they are enthusiastic and have read enough to use their judgment. It is a very special relationship for an author to have a bookstore, especially independent bookstores, because they know their products, they know the stories that we try to tell and they will sell your books by hand if that’s the one talking to them.

In her catalog of literature, Williams creates worlds in which women thrive – she delicately recounts struggle and triumph through friendships and mother-daughter relationships and through stories of escape from hardship recounted in Dancing on the edge of the roof, a book released in 2002 that has since been converted into a Netflix movie titled Juanita.

“Books hold a special place in our culture,” says Williams. “For those of us who are storytellers, it means a lot to have a place where you feel part of the group, you are supported by the entrepreneur and you have the opportunity to tell your story. I walk in and out of the Covington store all the time, and it’s a meeting place. It serves as a crossroads. You have a lot of different people, different demographics and that’s important, it’s invaluable and I think the new location will provide that to Newport.

Williams is just one of many regulars at Covington drawn to the idea of ​​a second location. Chas Brannen, lawyer and unofficial head of the self-proclaimed Roebling Point Books & Coffee ‘salon’, reiterated the importance of a bookstore’s impact and noted the absence of one in Kenton and Campbell counties. He says the salon, which meets inside the Covington store almost every morning for coffee and a chat, has endured the chaos of the pandemic and bridge building and is eager to change the space of meeting in Newport every now and then.

“We’re talking about culture, politics, community, of course, we’re talking about the bookstore itself and the bridge and all those kinds of things you’d expect,” Brannen explains. “And I hope that a similar show develops there organically. I don’t know if I could do without it, and I suspect the good people of Newport will embrace the bookstore just like our neighborhood has.

Roebling Point Books & Coffee’s second location will be at 601 Overton St., Newport. More information:

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