Symposium Books Reopens Next To Panera

by | Feb 13, 2014

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It took a little longer than planned, but Symposium Books has reopened at 1000 Division Street, next door to Panera Bread. The space is bigger then their old spot on Main Street, but the real selling point was the easy parking. 

“We really wanted to have the store on Main Street work, but it didn’t work because people couldn’t find parking,” said Anne-Marie Keohane, who owns the business with her husband. “In East Greenwich and in a lot of towns, it all hinges on parking. They’ll drive by and want to come in, but if there’s not a parking spot within one block, off they go.

“We knew for a while that we wanted to move over here because of the parking and I saw this empty space,” Keohane said. “We talked to Jessica from the Savory Grape and she said her business really picked up when they moved over here and we thought, ‘Let’s go for it.'”

They realized, too, to make it as a bookstore in 2014, they needed to tweak their model a bit. 

“We knew we’d have to get a bigger space, where we’d have the selection of books we wanted and also have gifts and non-book items,” she explained. “That’s what a bookstore needs to be today: You come in for your book and pick something else up. Or come in for a gift and then get a book.”

It doesn’t bother Keohane that Barnes & Noble is just up the road in Warwick or Amazon online.

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“We are wholesalers, so we can get books at prices nobody else can and that has always been our strength. If we have the book, it’s going to be 40 percent off if it’s a remainder or an overstock. And the new releases are 10 percent off, no shipping, come on in and get it. So, we’re competitive with online,” she said.

Children’s story hour takes place Wednesdays at 1 p.m. The store is available to host book clubs and will be featuring author readings and book signings. 

“Since we opened, all the authors are contacting us now, which they didn’t do in the smaller space, so obviously, size matters,” Keohane said, laughing.

Symposium Books, 1000 Division Street, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

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