Independent Book Store ‘Charm City Books’ Coming to Pigtown

| September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Pigtown is getting a book store as Charm City Books is opening next month in 782 Washington Blvd. Charm City Books is a new business from husband and wife Joe Carlson and Daven Ralston. Charm City Books is taking the place of a Baltimore Police substation that recently left the two-story, 1,200 sq. ft. retail space.

Carlson and Ralston have been involved in performing and teaching music and theater in the Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Virginia area for the last 10 years. “We’ve always wanted to open a space where we could serve a community by using these skills we’ve developed and our artistic network of people,” said Ralston.

Along with selling books, Charm City Books plans on being an event space with classes, workshops, live music, book readings, and more.

Ralston has an English literature degree and spent time recently working at a book store in Old Town Alexandria to learn more about the business. “The indie bookstore industry is really making a resurgence, even as sales have gone down on the giants,” she said. “They are doing well because they are offering all kinds of events and services.”

Ralston said Charm City Books is a perfect marriage of her and Carlson’s two passions: reading and literacy, and performance.

Carlson and Ralston were drawn to Baltimore because they are familiar with the artistic community here. It is also chance for Ralston to live closer to family members who also relocated to Baltimore through work and school opportunities.

Ralston said it was important for Charm City Books to find a tight-knit community where everyone knew each other. She had connected with Pigtown Main Street Executive Director Kim Lane to see if a book store would be a good fit for Pigtown. It just so happened that Lane recently received feedback from the community that a book store was one of their top wishes.

“Pigtown Main Street is thrilled to welcome Charm City Books to the Pigtown business family,” said Lane in a statement. “SCRAP-Bmore has relocated to Pigtown, and Breaking Bread, The Greener Kitchen, and Old Major all won Best of Baltimore 2019 awards. The addition of an independent bookstore and another community gathering space is yet another great addition to the renaissance building in Pigtown.”

Ralston said everyone they have met so far in Pigtown, including residents and fellow business owners, has been “very welcoming.”

Charm City Books will be a general interest book store with mostly new titles, but it will also have a small used section. It will sell books for children of all ages, fiction, non-fiction, classics, science, politics, social, and sports books. Carlson and Ralston are working with Ingram Content Group for the initial stocking of the shelves. “We want to be very intentional about what we select and reflect the community,” said Ralston.

Customers will also be able to get books delivered to Charm City Books.

The store will also sell puzzles, kids games, journals, notebooks, and various merchandise.

Charm City Books will feature a pop-up in the store for local artists to sell their products.

The shelves at Charm City Books will be on wheels so that they can be moved to create more room for events. Events will take place on both floors of the store.

Charm City Books will host its grand opening on October 5th in conjunction with Pigtown Main Street’s Bloom the Boulevard events. There will be a ribbon cutting, live music with local trumpet player Brandon Woody, a craft hour, a performance by a local theater group, and a reading by author D. Watkins.

Carlson and Ralston will look to immediately get some music lessons and coaching in the space along with a steady schedule of events.

Charm City Books will have a new sign in the glass storefront windows. The store’s logo features the store’s raven mascot Grip, which is homage to Edgar Allen Poe. Ralston said they are excited to have a book store so close to Edgar Allen Poe’s former home and his grave.

Along with setting up shelves, Carlson and Ralston are painting the retail space and removing the carpet to expose the original wood floors.

Charm City Books will be open Tuesday to Thursday from 11am to 7pm, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 8pm, and Sundays from 10am to 4pm. It will be closed on Mondays.

Photos and logo courtesy of Charm City Books 

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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