Friday, July 19, 2024

Christina Pascucci Ciampa at All She Wrote Books’ previous location in Somerville’s Assembly Square. (Photo: All She Wrote Books via Facebook)

The bookstore All She Wrote is leaving Assembly Square for East Somerville. Owner Christina Pascucci Ciampa expressed excitement about a new space she said will have a more “neighborhood feel.”

The expected opening for All She Wrote, one of the area’s only explicitly feminist, queer bookstores, is Oct. 15 at 75 Washington St., near the East Somerville MBTA stop on the green line, a building Ciampa said has “plenty of parking, plenty of access to public transit, plenty of beautiful protected bike lanes … Now we can actually go into the community.”

The new shop is about half as big – a mere “850-ish square feet” including a small storage space in the basement, down from 1,502 square feet. “We’re going to have to reimagine the space a lot, because we are ultimately downsizing,” Ciampa said, but the new location “allows us more freedom to do more things.”

For instance, there will be a patio, and since many of the Assembly Row location’s bookshelves were owned by Federal Realty, Ciampa intends to buy new furniture with wheels on it. This will allow flexibility to rearrange the space for book club meetings, as well as to help customers – particularly disabled people and parents with strollers – move freely. “We’re still gonna make it cozy, make it gay,” Ciampa said.

Ciampa hopes to enhance community programming in East Somerville and is excited to host author events. Soon to be in spitting distance of Union Square, the store will be closer to current and potential local business partners in Bow Market such as the Tiny Turns Paperie, a frequent collaborator. East Somerville has far more small-business owners than Assembly Row. “Small businesses can help each other out,” Ciampa said, “in a way that I think is super powerful.”

The bookstore’s relocation was first reported by the Boston Business Journal and announced in a crowdfunding campaign on GiveButter.

Ciampa cited rent hikes of 130 percent over three years as spurring her to start a search for a new space in July, after an additional $8,000 spent on issues relating to air conditioning and heating systems. Ciampa said the bookstore gave notice to its Assembly Square landlords at the end of August.

“It’s a mix of emotions. We’re closing the current chapter and starting a new one,” Ciampa said.

Though moving has been expensive and stressful, it has also provided an opportunity to think more deeply about the store’s future: “Not just how do we do this, but how do we do this in a way that aligns with our values,” Ciampa said. The store has been working with the Somerville’s Americans with Disabilities Act compliance office, which has been “instrumental in having the information that we need.”

East Somerville Main Streets has also been helpful throughout, Ciampa said – another benefit to leaving the corporate Assembly Row. Even long before the move, East Somerville Main Streets helped the store apply for Covid-related grants and with promotion. “If anything, they helped us get started,” Ciampa said. “With some of their events, they would allow us to come and pop up, which ultimately created the relationship we have with them now.”=

The fundraiser is almost one-third of the way to its $60,000 goal, for which Ciampa expressed gratitude to “the folks that had shown up not just here in Massachusetts, but across the globe.” While the store is closed during its relocation and permitting, Ciampa is trying to keep compensating staff fully during the transition.

“I’m incredibly proud and grateful, not just the store but for all of us,” Ciampa said. “All She Wrote Books is more than me, it’s bigger than me … That, to me, is the best part of this whole thing.”

An opening party is expected shortly after the opening, with details coming on the store website and social media.

This post was updated Sept. 25, 2023, with a clarification about bookshelves at the old and new All She Wrote Books store locations.