Booksellers open shop in downtown Lansing

LANSING, Michigan – A new independent bookstore has now opened in downtown Lansing, specializing in books by authors who are generally underrepresented in the literary world.

After a summer of pop-up shops in the Lansing area, two independent booksellers had the opportunity to move to the new Middle Town Village Micro Market from Downtown Lansing Inc.

Christine Bennett and Elise Jajuga met through intramural exercise and immediately bonded through their love of reading.

One day when the two were on a hike, the idea for a bookstore came up.

“We started thinking about what Lansing is missing from the literary scene and what we’d like to see,” said Bennett.

And so A Novel Concept was born.

The couple hosted a number of pop-up shops in Lansing over the summer but didn’t think they’d find a spot of their own anytime soon.

“That was an ambitious goal,” said Jajuga. “But we didn’t know this incubator room would exist when we started.”

When Julie Reinhardt, community development director of Downtown Lansing Inc. approached the duo about the opportunity to have a place in their new retail innovation hub, Jajuga said they had to “do it.”

The opportunity changed her entire business model, but her goal as an independent bookseller remained the same.

With the pop-up shops, “we figured out where we were going and the types of people we wanted to interact with, and tried to curate specifically on them,” said Jajuga. “We’re still doing this on the same level here, except that most of the people who come here know we’re focusing on underrepresented voices, especially those of women, BIPOC and LGBTQ + writers.”

Margaret Cahill

The store offers books specially by Bennett and Jajuga. were selected

Jajuga and Bennett also try to personalize their customers’ experiences.

“There’s nothing more intimate than sharing a book recommendation of something you really loved with another person,” said Bennett.

The store is run by Bennett, Jajuga, and volunteer friends and family, so recommendations can be both personalized and niche-shaped.

A Novel Concept also sells custom tote bags, stickers and book covers.

The shop at 112 S. Washington Square is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and also features a book club for the avid readers.

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