As shoppers stroll through the brand new bookstore of the possible future, Lizzo bursts out from a set of Bluetooth speakers, perusing the shelves and admiring the artwork.
New Haven’s newest independent bookstore opened on August 22 in the Edgewood neighborhood. It provides a space where shoppers are free to open open book covers, work, stroll or simply relax in one of the many upholstered chairs.
For Lauren Anderson, Possible Futures is the culmination of a 10-year journey. Anderson quit her former tenured professor job to pursue a lifelong dream of running a bookstore. After running a previous store, Anderson decided to move her business closer to her own community. She started looking for a new place and drafting a business plan in January.
After months of waiting for zoning approvals, the space was finally cleared to open. The possible future is conveniently located in the heart of the Edgewood community, with the 246 CT Transit bus line and bike path passing by the door.
Books may be sold in the future, but Anderson is clear about its priorities as a community space. She explained how the store is committed to being open to everyone. Airy storefront with plush sofa chairs and tables scattered among bookshelves, ADA accessible bathroom and rear parking. Anderson said the store is a place “where people in the neighborhood can come in and hang out and chat.”
Its door-opening spirit extends to shelf space as well. Books are designed to showcase underrepresented authors, with an emphasis on titles that don’t always get the attention of New York Times reviews and bestseller lists. In a publishing industry dominated by white authors, too many books often slip through the cracks, Anderson explained.
“The stuff here reflects our community and provides a little connection to certain books elsewhere,” Anderson told the news. In order to preserve work that best reflects the diversity of her community, she often seeks advice from clients and neighbors.
Today, first-time shoppers can find everything from WEB DuBois’ “Afro-American Reconstruction”“ “Afterparty” by Anthony Veasno So. Books by up-and-coming authors sit side by side with familiar bestsellers, giving readers an opportunity to explore. On the far right wall, the store displays artworks selected in turn by local artists; featured artists can choose titles that revolve around the themes of their work.
Anderson keeps returning to connection and community as the cornerstone of her work. While the possible future is another bookstore in the New Haven literary scene, Anderson firmly reiterates that it’s rooted in her community.
Speaking about the store’s role in the Edgewood community, Anderson stressed the importance of “listening to people…about what they want the space to be”. Opening Spaces for All also encouraged her to work with organizations like the Pride Center.
The intimacy of the store has not gone unnoticed.
“Small shops have more character than Barnes and Noble,” said Edgewood local resident Ben McManus. “The store has its own personality…and having the option to actually sit down is a big plus.”
Local residents flocked there. Some wandered while walking, some visited after cycling past it, and some recently discovered the store on Instagram. Among them, local resident Mark Abraham was impressed by the store’s selection of children’s books as he scanned new titles for his children.
“I discovered new joys in children’s books…about race and gender, and things I hadn’t read as a kid,” added Karolina Ksiazek ’15, another local resident and bookstore customer.
The intimacy of the in-person book buying experience also gives them the freedom to stumble upon new titles and authors for themselves, multiple shoppers admit.
“It’s convenient to be able to stop and find a book on the lark without having to stare at a screen all day,” Abraham said.
The store is always looking for new ways to engage with the community. In just two weeks of opening, Possible Futures is already planning “book lunches,” author readings and more local events.
“I believe in living where you work, working where you live, and getting to know people,” Anderson said.
A possible future is located at 318 Edgewood Ave.