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Tombolo Books finds its permanent home in St. Petersburg

The shop plans to open next to Black Crow on First Ave. S before the new year.
Candice Anderson, left, and Alsace Walentine, co-owners of Tombolo Books, rearrange books as attendees of the Times Festival of Reading leave the University Student Center behind them. [Jack Evans | Times]
Candice Anderson, left, and Alsace Walentine, co-owners of Tombolo Books, rearrange books as attendees of the Times Festival of Reading leave the University Student Center behind them. [Jack Evans | Times]
Published Nov. 18, 2019
Updated Nov. 19, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — For the last two years, Tombolo Books has won the hearts of local lit fans through pop-up shops, markets and its free delivery service.

This week, owner Alsace Walentine announced Tombolo found its permanent home, cozied up next to Black Crow Coffee on First Avenue S in the Grand Central District downtown. Walentine said she already raised $200,000 through private donors to open the new bookstore, but had been scouring the city for the right place to set up shop.

“For the last two years we’ve been out in the community learning, making new friends and selling books,” Walentine said during a video announcing the new store.

She went on to describe the new spot at 2153 First Ave. S as a dream location.

Related: 8 great independent book stores in Tampa Bay

Walentine learned the intricacies of independent book sales as a manager of the Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, N.C. After her wife’s job landed the couple in St. Petersburg, Walentine began to plan for a store like the one she loved in North Carolina.

Walentine, who co-owns the business with her wife, Candice Anderson, said she plans for the new 1,500 square-foot-space to hold 7,000 books that will highlight independent authors and diverse voices.

Tombolo is now trying to raise another $12,000 via crowd-sourcing to help the store “open on a solid foundation before the new year,” according to the fundraiser page.

Walentine has partnered with writers such as Florida author Lauren Groff to set up personalized tote bags and other perks to help attract donations.

She said Tombolo will use that money to launch in time for the December holiday shopping season.

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