Photo Credit: lechatnoir
Urban Reader: Charlotte, NC's Only Black-Owned Bookstore
Charlotte, North Carolina, has its first Black-owned bookstore. Sonyah Spencer has been selling books for more than 20 years online, but decided to open Urban Reader Bookstore after noticing a gap in the market.
“There was nobody selling African-American books. I reached out to Baker and Taylor, which is actually out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and I opened up an account,” Spencer told Spectrum News.
While there are a few Black-owned bookstores in North Carolina, Urban Reader Bookstore is the only one in Charlotte at this time, Spectrum News reports.
Spencer had previously owned a brick-and-mortar store in the old Eastland Mall, but closed the physical store in 2006 when audiobooks and e-books became more popular.
The racial reckoning in 2020 and the conversation around social justice following the death of George Floyd is what prompted Spencer to get back in the game as more people were seeking a Black-owned bookstore and authors to support. She opened the store one-year later in 2021.
“What’s unique about Urban Reader Bookstore, [it’s] a bookstore specializing in African American books […] and its personalized service: once we know what you’re looking for, we will buy accordingly and ship it to your home or business,” a statement reads on the website.
Located in the University area, the store has an inventory full of authors of color for readers interested in a variety of genres, including art, business, true crime, cooking, and more. Spencer says she also caters to every age.
“Children should see themselves at a young age,” she added. “That starts with the board books, all the way up to the chapter books and adult books.”
The next step for Spencer is securing the space next to her store to hopefully add a café and place for children to play.
You can find more information about the bookstore by clicking here.