Like other independent bookstores, Word Up is all too familiar with the fight to survive ever since it opened in June 2011, but the summer has brought a new ray of light to the embattled bookstore and community space.
For the Washington Heights store, the fight to stay open in Upper Manhattan is particularly challenging in an area with a dearth of bookstores, something especially apparent to kids and parents, reports Carolina Pichardo of the Manhattan Times.
Besides the local libraries, there really aren’t places for children and families to go to where they can pick up a book, participate in a workshop, or listen in at story time. That’s where Word Up comes in.
“In the first couple of weeks, when we opened up, people would look in and wonder, ‘What is going on in there?'” explained Liu, with a laugh. “It was great to see kids interact with the space.”
Just in time for summer, and to the delight of founder Veronica Liu and the store’s volunteers, Word Up has signed a new lease on life.
For her, and the many volunteers, Word Up was a gathering space to meet other people and exchange ideas, talk, and see new stories unfolding in all kinds of ways – as neighbors.
And now, there will soon be a grand re-opening at 2113 Amsterdam Avenue, at 165th Street.
“The support,” she said, “has made us felt like Word Up was constructed out of the community; all of this has come from everyone that’s interacted with the space.”
With a place to call their own, Word Up can finally make the most of it with programs for locals.
“There were things we wanted to do before that we couldn’t, since we didn’t know if we’d be around,” Veronica said. “We have time now to plan an after-school program, branch out of Voices/Voces (the People’s Theater Project workshop of performances by local teens), and be a more lasting presence-as kids in the neighborhood grow up to have this space for them,” she noted.
Visit Manhattan Times to check out some popular children’s books among the Word Up crowd.