Feature photo: Sisters Amy Lamb and Bether Berger opened Wonderland Bookshop in Greensboro back in 2018 after noticing that the city didn’t have its own independent children’s bookstore. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)
Wonderland Bookshop is an independent-owned children’s bookstore in Greensboro, located at 409 State St. and open on Tuesday-Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The store has been open since October 2018, when sisters Amy Lamb and Beth Berger started it together. Learn more about the shop at wonderlandbookshopnc.com and on Facebook.
What prompted you guys to want to open a children’s bookstore?
AL: We had been thinking about opening a bookstore and we really focused on children because we thought it would give us more focus and we didn’t want a huge store, so we knew that would narrow down what we would carry and our customers. We decided on Greensboro because they didn’t have a dedicated children’s bookstore.
Tell me about the books that you carry.
BB: We have board books for the younger ones and then we do picture books up to about 8 years old. And then we have nonfiction for all ages.
AL: We have middle grade for those 8- to 12-year-olds and young adults for 13 and up and we have books in Spanish. We have some parenting books about, You’re becoming a big sister or, You’re becoming a big brother. We have some poetry books, some creativity books, cookbooks. We take suggestions and try to figure out what people want to buy, and then we make sure we’ve got a little bit of everything. We usually only have one copy of books because we want to have more availability. We can order anything, including for adults.
What has proven to be some of the more popular books?
AL: We love to sell Goodnight Greensboro, which is a picture book for kids. That has sold a lot.
BB: Bea Birdsong, she writes How to Spot a Best Friend.
AL: Stacy McAnulty from Kernersville, we sell a lot of her middle-grade and picture books.
BB: We sell a lot of board books. We do a lot of picture books. People use them for gifts a lot, too.
You have a very diverse selection of books including ones about race and gender identity. With recent pushback of books like these, have you had any customers complain about any of your products?
BB: I think we’ve gotten maybe a little but not overt in any way.
AL: We never made any secret about it so there may be people who never come in, but people have been so appreciative of the books that we have had. Parents are looking for that and they’re not shy to ask. And we’ve been so happy when people buy them. They’re just the best picture books coming out these days.
Why do you feel like having a children’s bookstore is important for the community?
BB: First, just to get children to read. They need to read to learn and to understand things. You start them as young as you possibly can so it’s nice to start them before they even get to the libraries. A lot of parents want their kids to read.
AL: They buy books to read as a family or they buy books to read to them even before they can understand and even kids before they go to kindergarten and they’re not reading yet. I think the earlier you can get them, the better. And you can never go wrong with a book. So many people come in and buy baby-shower gifts and baby gifts.
What has business been like during the pandemic?
AL: A lot of online. People were very kind and still ordered online. We’re certainly not back to where we were. We did some story times outdoors over the summer but we’re not ready to be doing in-person things much in the store.
BB: And a lot of parents are very cautious especially for the smaller kids that can’t be immunized yet.
AL: So we are just plugging along, doing the best we can. People have been very supportive.
What are some of your favorite parts about owning a bookstore?
AL: It’s nice to talk it all through with customers and we pull all the books out and it’s really fun and to have older kids who you give the first in the series and they come back and want to read the rest of them.
BB: We have some great repeat customers that we really know so that’s just really nice and their kids! Oh my goodness, just in the three years we’ve been here, I feel like we’ve seen kids grow tremendously.
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