Explore

The Bronx’s Only Independent Bookstore Is Black-Owned

By Parker Diakite

Share

In October of 2014, Bronx native Noëlle Santos joined more than 3,000 protestors to save the only bookstore in the borough from closing its doors.

And their efforts worked.

The public outcry had a domino effect that caused public officials to step in to help with rent negotiations after the Barnes & Noble store in the area considered leaving.

That only lasted for two years.  The store ultimately had to close due to rent inflation, leaving the Bronx without a bookstore.

Despite the outrage and sense of loss, Noelle Santos used that moment to birth a dream of own. 

Three years later, she would open the only bookstore in the Bronx, known as The Lit.Bar. 


The Lit.Bar owner Noëlle Santos Photo courtesy of The Lit.Bar

After realizing the Bronx needed more books, she opened the only general bookstore in the borough in April known as The Lit. Bar.

Santos recognized that residents in the Bronx were grossly underserved. To meet the needs of residents, The Lit.Bar aims to address the shortcoming of big-box stores: reflecting and serving the unique needs of the communities they operate in. 

Her vision for The Lit.Bar is to be the premier venue for Bronxites and visitors that creates a haven that inspires reading, encourages healthy social interaction, highlights diverse voices, and increases intellectual visibility in the Bronx.

Instagram | @thelitbar

During her opening week, readers left only two books on her shelves, forcing staff to shift to part-time hours temporarily to restock inventory.

“They completely bought out the store,” Santos said in an interview with AM New York.

Known as the “official bookstore of Wakanda and The Bronx,” Santos, who identifies as Afro Latina, has stocked her shelves with a variety of popular fiction and nonfiction literature, with a focus on marginalized voices.

The Lit.Bar owner Noëlle Santos Photo courtesy of The Lit.Bar

It’s hard to miss The.LitBar, located in the Mott Haven.  Outside the brick walls, you will find graffiti art that depicts a young girl of color, wearing two afro puffs with spray paint cans in her handwriting the words, “reach the world but touch the hood first” just inches away from a “bookstore & chill” sign.

In addition to books, you will find a café and wine bar decorated with wall murals and books donated by the local community.

Share
Travel Noire

Parker Diakite

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

Flight Deal: Fly Nonstop From NYC To Miami For Only $110

Flight Deal: Fly Nonstop From NYC To Miami For Only $110

Hey New Yorkers! If you are looking for warmer weather this Christmas, you may want to keep reading this. United Airlines is currently offering a nonstop flight deal from New York’s EWR Airport to sunny Miami, Florida, for only $110 roundtrip. The best part of this deal is that it is available for Christmas dates. […]

DeAnna Taylor

6 Times These Traveling Black Fathers Were Family Goals On Instagram

6 Times These Traveling Black Fathers Were Family Goals On Instagram

In honor of Father’s Day, here are some black fathers who are inspiring us all to the see the world and they’re doing it with their spouses and children by their sides.   1. James and his wife Monet run the travel blog “The Traveling Child.” Together, with their two daughters, Kennedy and Jordyn, the […]

Parker Diakite

Jay-Z’s Favorite Places To Eat, Shop & Relax In NYC

Jay-Z’s Favorite Places To Eat, Shop & Relax In NYC

There’s nothing better than getting travel advice from a local.   From food, shopping, nightlife, and where to capture the best photos in the city, it’s rare for locals to steer you in the wrong direction.  That’s why when it comes to what to do in the Big Apple, who better than Jay-Z to get advice […]

Parker Diakite