White Whale Bookstore
Owning a bookstore is an adventure that Jill and I have been working toward for as long as either of us can remember. We’re lifelong book lovers, and reading is what brought us together. We met in 2009 while working in editorial at Hachette Book Group in New York. We both majored in Creative Writing and English Literature in college, and Jill had previously held jobs in libraries and independent bookstores, while I had interned with the same publisher. Together, in 2012, we made the tough decision to leave New York and publishing, and move to Pittsburgh, PA. I began a new career in nonprofit work, teaching English as a Second Language to immigrants and refugees through AmeriCorps at the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. Jill has been writing books for kids and young adults, and has co-written teen novels with bestselling author James Patterson. Owning a bookstore is something we talked about often. Actually, fantasized might be a better word, since we never imagined that our dream might become a reality. But five months ago, the opportunity presented itself, and we jumped at the chance. So now here we are, owning and running a business, and striving to make the store the best it can be. We’re so excited to be doing something we believe in, and we are thrilled to have a venue to engage with the community in a city we’ve come to love so much.
This loan is special because:
More about this loan
We bought a wonderful used bookstore in Pittsburgh from our friend back in May of this year. Over the five years that it’s been in business, the East End Book Exchange has become a community hub in the Bloomfield neighborhood, a place where people can come and talk books or get recommendations from the staff. It’s also become one of the busiest places for hosting literary events in the city, from book launches, to poetry series, to writing workshops. We’re excited to have the chance to build on what’s already been created here. This Fall, we’ll be expanding our selection and shifting the focus to new titles, as well as changing the store’s name to White Whale Bookstore to reflect our new direction. It feels like a privilege to work in a place where writers and ideas are celebrated, to spend our days selling not just books, but also our love of reading and community engagement.
What is the purpose of this loan?
Our storefront is the face of the business—one of the best ways we have to advertise exactly what we’re about. The loan will go toward a facade makeover, including a paint job, decals, and new signage with the store’s new name. It will also include new lighting for the interior of the store, since our space is quite dim, and we will be repainting the interior to match our new brand. By turning the existing bookstore into something that is ours, we believe we can create a space that adds even more literary vitality to the neighborhood and city itself. This loan will mean a huge step toward that goal. Thank you for your support!
Years in operation: 6 months – 1 year