Kew & Willow Books, community-funded bookstore in Kew Gardens, slated to open in September

Photo via Facebook/QueensBookshopInitiative

With the help of hundreds of Queens residents eager to bring bookstores back to the borough, three former Barnes & Noble employees are turning a new chapter.

Kew & Willow Books will open at  81-63 Lefferts Blvd. in Kew Gardens and owners Vina Castillo, Natalie Noboa and Holly Nikodem are hoping to be ready by the end of September. The three friends met while working at a Barnes & Noble in Forest Hills, which shut its doors in the summer of 2015.

The Bayside and Jamaica locations also closed, leaving Queens with just one bookstore ‒ The Astoria Bookshop ‒ selling new releases. The friends had years of experience working in book retail and knew that Queens residents would be willing to pitch in to bring back a bookshop.

They started a Kickstarter page and raised more than $72,000 from 831 people to fund the endeavor. After settling on a location in May, the trio invited friends to a sneak preview of the shop in early August. The 700-square-foot space will display adult fiction and non-fiction books while the back of the store will be dedicated to children’s, young reader and young adult books with room for story time.

The owners of Kew & Willow Books
The owners of Kew & Willow Books

As a general purpose bookstore, Kew & Willow Books will stock every genre, including fiction, history, biography, self-improvement and more. Owners will also highlight local authors with a permanent display for Queens writers that will rotate once a month.

The name, which pays homage to Kew Gardens, is also inspired by the Whomping Willow in the Harry Potter series. The author J.K. Rowling created the tree for her series after visiting the the Kew Gardens Botanical Garden in England.

“It feels amazing to finally have a space that we love as well as a neighborhood that has welcomed us with open arms,” the owners said in a statement. “Kew Gardens, and really all of Queens, have been so supportive and encouraging. We really can’t thank them enough for loving books as much as we do.”

The trio will host an author event on Sept. 14 at the Maple Grove Celebration Hall at 127-15 Kew Gardens Rd. Queens mystery authors Alex Segura and Lyndsay Faye will talk about their books and the moderator will be Daniel Ford, an author and podcaster at Writer’s Bone.



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