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By Dawn Wolfe
Common Language bookstore, an LGBT presence on Ann Arbor’s Fourth Street for thirteen years, opened in its new location in Braun Court, next to the /aut/ Bar, on Jan. 4.
“We had, from the very beginning, hoped to move the store here,” said co-owner Keith Orr. “Parking is much easier, and retail depends on foot traffic.”
Orr says that the new location not only makes life easier for himself and his partner Martin Contreras, but placing the bookstore next to the bar, which the pair also own, means that, “Our core market eats and drinks next door.”
The move also made financial sense.
“[We moved] it into a building we own, which makes the economics of a little independent bookstore a bit easier,” said Orr.
The best part, though, is that the new store is cozier than the old location, making it easier to reach a social “critical mass” that encourages conversation among patrons as they browse among the shelves.
“It’s exciting, because so many more people are walking through. It feels like a real community place,” said Orr.
The feeling of being a community place is enhanced through the store’s decor. Comfortable chairs are nestled among floor-to-ceiling, custom-crafted bookshelves, and ample but understated lighting makes it easy to read the titles while also creating a relaxing, stay-awhile ambiance. Everything, from the layout to the decor to the coffee bar, makes the new Common Language the perfect place to take a friend, or meet a new one.
New space, new plans
Orr and Contreras are in the process of having their bar’s liquor license extended to the bookstore, which will allow them to offer a wine bar. That process should be complete by spring, according to Orr.
In the meantime, the store is featuring coffee from a local vendor, Amazing Beans.
“We met them at Out Fest,” said Orr, who added that the coffee is served to patrons in individual French presses.
A new web site is also in the works at http://www.glbtbooks.com.
Not everything is changing, however. In keeping with the store’s mission as a community place, Common Language will continuing hosting the Lez Read book discussion group on the last Saturday of each month. This month, the group will discuss “Kiss the Girls and Make them Spy,” a James Bond spoof by Mabel Maney.
For more information, including store hours, call Common Language at 734-663-0036 or visit their new website at http://www.glbtbooks.com.