On Friday, July 3, Haywood Road got a new bookstore and café — with a little bit of West Asheville grit (in a good way).
Firestorm Books & Coffee is back. And though the doors are currently open — the coffee flowing and the pages turning, the 7-year-old cooperative will host its official grand opening celebration on Sunday, July 12.
Originally located downtown on Commerce Street, in the space now occupied by Addissae Ethiopian restaurant, Firestorm Books & Coffee closed in April 2014 to carry out a new vision for the alternative, cooperative bookstore. On Jan. 1, worker-owners announced the purchase of their new location: 610 Haywood Road, the former home of Pro Bikes.
A crowdfunding campaign over the next few months successfully backed the bookstore’s re-opening, raising $13,520 of the $13,000 goal and allowing worker-owners to transform their space from an edgy bike shop to a cozy coffee corner.
On the menu for the July 12 grand opening? Free coffee, giveaways and readings by local authors, starting at 5 p.m.
And, as always, Firestorm’s collective shows a dedication to their literature. “Curious readers will find not only the rich assortment of titles on gardening, green living and political radicalism, … but also an expanded inventory of children’s books, classics and speculative fiction,” reads a press release from Firestorm.
Seven months ago, worker-owners promised a revamped children’s section in their store — and Firestorm delivered. A corner of the new location is dedicated to children’s books, poems and short stories, coloring and activity books and a chalkboard beside a kiddie-sized table and chairs.
And, according to the press release, “The cooperative has plans to host regular author events, book groups and a bilingual story hour for kids.”
In a space to the left of the bookstore, Firestorm Books & Coffee stays true to its name, smelling of roasted beans and toasting bagels in its offbeat café. The vegan coffee and tea bar offers specialty beverages like a coconut cream breve and the spicy molotov macchiato, while also serving baked goods from Wadadli Dessert Oasis, Eden-Out Meals and Eat More Bakery.
Worker-owner Lauren Lockamy stood behind the café counter on Tuesday, July 7, taking orders and serving coffee to the small group of patrons already flipping pages and nestled into chairs around the well-lit space.
Lockamy explained that there are still a few finishing touches that the collaborative hopes to set up before the grand opening — a few more shelves, some additional art on the walls, their piano from the last space (currently in storage) — and most of their baked goods have yet to be delivered.
But it’s coming along — a completely different feel than the gutted, graffitied space they showed off in winter.
And to the worker-owners of Firestorm, it’s more than just a bookstore and café.
“Firestorm has always been a labor of love,” said worker-owner Libertie Valance in December of last year. “None of us are really doing it for the paycheck. We’re [here] for the right reasons.”
Lockamy added, “I didn’t go into Firestorm trying to find a place of fulfillment in my work, but that’s kind of what it became.”
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