Katie Beltz and her husband, Emanuel Figueroa, have always dreamed of opening their own bookstore. When they came across a vacant storefront in the Hamilton-Lauraville neighborhood of Northeast Baltimore, they decided it was time to make their dream come true. Katie explains, “We knew this was definitely the right fit for us. The neighborhood is very diverse and there are so many supportive people and groups in the area…it’s full of engaged residents.” The couple didn’t just want to operate a bookstore; they wanted their store to support and be a gathering place for community members.
The couple got to work in June 2021, hoping to open in time for the holiday season. They met with local business owners and residents, distributed surveys to get their feedback, and worked closely with the Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street to learn how the store could best serve them. They also secured a loan from Baltimore Community Lending to fund the store’s initial inventory and covered related startup costs. BCL’s Director of the Small Business Division, Bonnie Crockett, says, “BCL is excited to support an independent bookstore, especially one so welcome in their neighborhood. Katie and Emanuel may be new business owners, but they really did their homework! We know they will be a happy success.”
Snug Books opened in November 2021 – just in time for the holiday season, as Katie and Emanuel had hoped. The store had a loyal following from the start, stemming from the strong relationships Katie and Emanuel had built with community residents. Katie elaborates, “The response from the community has been so wonderful…I can’t tell you the number of people who have walked in the door and cheered, saying ‘I’m so glad you’re here.’” Customers have pledged their commitment to shopping local rather than buying from big box stores, in many cases placing special orders for books that weren’t in Snug Books’ existing inventory. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, or perhaps because of it, Baltimore has steadfastly supported local small businesses.
Snug Books sells books in a variety of genres for all ages. Their eclectic inventory also includes gifts, games, puzzles, treats, and educational materials, many of which are sourced from local makers. Additionally, they host regular events such as children’s story times. The shop is located in a walkable, pedestrian-friendly corridor with plenty of outdoor seating, alongside numerous well-known and loved small businesses (including Zeke’s Coffee, the perfect spot to read your newly-purchased book while enjoying a beverage).
The future looks bright for Snug Books. Emanuel is “looking forward to spring when we can start doing more outdoor events with other businesses on Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street,” such as author book signings and book clubs. Snug Books has proven that although people are consuming print media less and less, what people really care about is commitment to community – and Snug Books has it.
Snug Books is located at 4717 Harford Road, Suite 1C, Baltimore, MD 21214.