By Sally Deering
When they opened Tachair Bookshoppe last July, Carol Valleau and her daughter Aleta Valleau took a gamble that local book lovers wanted something more than downloading a book to their Kindles and Nooks. The mother/daughter booksellers gambled on the idea that book lovers want a place to browse new books, thumb through old classics and maybe read a chapter or two while sipping a fresh brewed coffee. It seems their gamble paid off – big time.
“To have the ability to walk down the street and find a bookstore, it’s nearly impossible,” Carol Valleau says between trips to the counter to help customers with their purchases. “We’re the only book store in Jersey City.”
“We’re an independent bookstore to the ‘T’,” Aleta Valleau says.
Tachair Bookshoppe offers new and used fiction, non-fiction, biographies, textbooks, and a warm and friendly atmosphere to browse the shelves. There are tables, too, where you can grab a seat to read, relax and strike up a conversation. The coffee is delicious too.
“The very foundation of our concept is that we missed having a bookstore, a place where you can walk in and pick something out,” Carol says. “People buy online, but there are things you miss, like meeting a new author, meeting new people, running into someone you know or someone you knew. Tachair is a community spot where you can come in from the cold and not have to buy. We like it when people do buy, of course, but it’s okay to just sit and have coffee, too.”
“Our business has been open a few years,” Carol says. “We did farmers markets in Jersey City to market the idea, to see if there was some kind of reason why there weren’t any bookstores, if it was just a fluke. We did market research while we sold our books under a canopy tent. It was great. We built a following over a two and a half year period.”
Part of their success has been their custom-order book service, Aleta says. If someone is having a hard time locating a book or if they’d rather not have to worry about missing UPS deliveries while at work, Aleta will search sources online, order the book and have it delivered to the store for the customer to pick up.
“Our distributor is really fast,” Aleta says, “and the customer doesn’t have to be home to get the delivery. They can pick it up from us. People are eating up that idea.”
Tachair Bookshoppe also accepts book donations. When they first opened, a local book lover donated 7 boxes of his books because he wanted to make sure the books would find good homes.
“We’re like a book adoption service,” Aleta says.
Children’s books are very popular at Tachair and Aleta offers an American Sign Language story time for kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She even taught her son Paul, 10, how to sign. And Tachair supports local writers with a section for their new books, book signings and author readings. Jersey City author John W. Hartmann will be reading from his new book, “The Trials of a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney” on Saturday Jan 12. Former Secaucus resident Jon D’Amore who wrote “The Boss Always Sits in the Back,” reads from his book on Sat, Jan. 27.
The Valleaus see a trend in Jersey City where small businesses like Tachair Bookshoppe are becoming popular with local residents who feel it important to support their local retailers
“We think that way,” Carol says. “We try to buy everything local. You know the people you’re buying from. They’re your neighbors and friends and working alongside you to build up the city. That’s what we have to do. Newark Avenue has a lot of potential. We’re trying to build up this area. We like this neighborhood.”
Tachair Bookshoppe’s January Events:
Sat, Jan 12, 7 pm
“The Trials of a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney” by John W. Hartmann
Sun, Jan. 27, 3 pm
“The Boss Always Sits in the Back” by Jon D’Amore
Sign Language Story Time (for children)
Thurs at 10 am; Sat at 11 am
260 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Store hours: Mon-Sun, 8 am-8 pm