New London’s Monte Cristo Bookshop is in the midst of a transition.
The bookstore, which was co-founded by Christopher Jones and his wife, Gina, in downtown New London two years ago (and is currently located at 38 Green St.), will be converting from a private enterprise to a non-profit, community run institution by the end of the month.
Tonight at 7 PM, the store will hold an informational session in which this conversion will be detailed for interested parties. Members of the public are encouraged to attend—and will hear about exciting opportunities that will allow them to get involved in this venture, should they wish to do so.
“When we originally did the fundraising for our opening in 2012 the community had fallen in love with the idea of having its own bookstore,” Jones tells HBE. “In many ways we exceeded the expectations of a business downtown. As a true community space it makes sense to be community run as well.”
Jones recently notified The Day that this non-profit cooperative will be overseen by a nine-member board of directors, and that Michael Whitehouse will serve as the executive director. Volunteers will be needed to keep the bookstore operational.
Whitehouse, who is a recent transplant to Groton, successfully oversaw a similar conversion to his first business, Worlds Apart Games (Amherst, Massachusetts), six years ago. Though the business was profitable under his five years of direction, his own earnings weren’t enough to support a growing family—a scenario that the Joneses are all too familiar with.
The loyal clientele of Worlds Apart Games responded enthusiastically when invited to contribute to its evolvement, and Whitehouse sees a similar spirit within his new community.
“When I learned all the details of the shop, I immediately saw that it was a very similar situation to the store in Massachusetts I helped convert. The more involved I have gotten in the process, the more I am finding that New London is a wonderful city with many great people working to make it better, which makes a fantastic place for this kind of organization to thrive,” Whitehouse tells HBE.
Though he’ll be investing up to forty hours per week during the initial transition, Whitehouse expects that this will decrease as more volunteers become involved.
Jones, who is returning to school to pursue a degree in computer science, expects to stay on temporarily to help ease the process, and has donated the bookstore’s inventory.
The official changeover will occur on Friday, August 22nd, and that weekend will serve as a Grand Reopening Book and Art Fair.
The mission of the Monte Cristo Bookshop is to bring authors, events, and ideas to the people of New London and surrounding communities.
A novel idea indeed, if you’ll pardon the pun …