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Boon for Fort Greene bibliophiles - A new bookstore will soon debut in the neighborhood

In a borough known for its wordsmiths, Fort Greene stands out proudly as a neighborhood that boasts a good many of them past and present.

The only thing missing is an independently owned general-interest bookstore.

That may soon be rectified after three of the neighborhood’s award-winning writers, Jhumpa Lahiri, Colson Whitehead and Jennifer Egan, showed up at BAM’s Harvey Theater last week for the Fort Greene Indie Bookstore Initiative (FGIBI) kickoff party.

The event was held to raise awareness — and possibly investors — to open a bookstore in the neighborhood.

Michael Gross, FGIBI’s co-chair, said an independent bookstore fits in with Fort Greene’s unique milieu.

“The neighborhood has an independent minded and progressive spirit and an independent bookstore would fit right in — and it will take the neighborhood to keep it going,” he said.

The FGIBI is working with local entrepreneur Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo to realize this collective dream.

Stockton-Bagnulo won the 2007 Brooklyn Public Library PowerUp! Competition for her business plan to open a bookstore in Fort Greene.

Stockton-Bagnulo, an events coordinator with McNally Robinson Booksellers in Manhattan, won $15,000 and a chance to jump start her bookish plan.

According to Stockton-Bagnulo’s blog, www.abookstoreinbrooklyn.blogspot.com, the event was also a rousing success, drawing 312 attendees, including possible investors and lenders for the proposed bookstore.

Also collected at the event were a number of surveys collected concerning the bookstore.

Last year, the Fort Greene Association’s retail committee surveyed 380 people across the neighborhood about their shopping preferences and found that 74 percent rated bookstores as a category in which they wanted more choices. Coming in second at 57 percent were bakeries.

Those with incomes under $50,000 had hardware stores first (59 percent), and bookstores second (52 percent), tied with supermarkets and a natural foods store, the survey notes.

Top on the list for 57 percent of African American respondents was a supermarket, while a bookstore came in third, at 54 percent, the survey notes.

For more information contact the FGIBI at fortgreeneshopping@gmail.com.

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