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One woman’s crusade to open the Bronx’s only bookstore

The Bronx is home to more than 1.4 million people. It has 10 colleges or universities, but doesn’t have ONE bookstore. The last place to purchase books was a Barnes & Noble located in Co-Op City and which still wasn’t easily accessible to residents in the South Bronx. The B&N closed its doors at the end of December 2016 because it was unable to renegotiate its lease with the building’s owner.

An avid reader and Bronx native, Noelle Santos, saw the demise of the Barnes & Noble bookstore in her borough as an opportunity she could cease upon. She came up with the concept of having a bookstore and wine bar blended together. Noelle who is a Human Resources manager, decided to enter the New York Public Library’s New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition and pitched her business plan for the bookstore she envisioned. She won a $7,500 second place award in the competition and has intensely focused herself on making her vision a reality.

In order to learn the ropes of operating a bookstore, Noelle sought out the help of Nicole Sullivan who operates BookBar in Denver, Colorado; a business similar to the one she wants to create. In addition to having a trusted mentor, Noelle also traveled to Florida to attend a week-long seminar offered by Paz & Associates for prospective bookstore owners. To ensure she had as much information and skills necessary to make her dream a reality, the business professional even took a part-time job at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe to gain hands-on experience running a wine bar and bookstore.

In addition to putting up her own money to get her business operational, Noelle is also trying to raise funds through a crowdfunding campaign. If she can make her vision a reality, The Lit. Bar will be the only independently owned bookseller in the Bronx. Noelle wants to change people’s perception of her borough and stated “I want to send the message that the Bronx is not burning anymore; the Bronx is burning with a desire to read.” She wants people to know that the Bronx is more than “the botanical gardens, the zoo, and Yankee Stadium — people miss out just because of negative stereotypes.”

The Lit. Bar’s menu will have “12 really good wines” in order to “appeal to people who like to drink wine socially, but that will also take the burden off of those who don’t want to choose among a lot of different kinds of wine.” They will also be serving panini sandwiches and coffee.

Let’s help spread the word about Noelle’s bookstore and wine bar, and help her make her vision a rousing success. Use the following links to see her progress:


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