It’s been a couple of years since Rust Belt Books first started thinking about picking up from Allen Street in order to plant roots on Grant Street. Since that time, shop owner Kristi Meal has done a smashing job of transplanting the shop, while maintaining the overall vibe of the bookstore. What I mean buy that is that often times by picking up and moving an entire business to a new neighborhood, a number of things get lost in the shuffle. Incredibly, much of Rust Belt Books is exactly the same as it was back in the Allentown days – the set up looks similar, the aesthetics are eerily familiar, and there are the same jam-packed shelves winding throughout the similar sized shop (without any clutter).
Just the other day I finally got around to stopping into the new Grant Street location. After talking to Kristi, I found that there’s an undercurrent of new energy that is driving the business. Part of the reason that Rust Belt moved to Grant Street, was the opportunity to purchase the building where the shop now resides. It was decided that Kristi would co-purchase the building with her longterm employee Erin Verhoef. Kristi told me that she felt inclined to enter into the co-ownership arrangement in order to “provide for the people who work for you.” That’s pretty cool that Kristi was looking out for someone who was so committed to seeing the business succeed for so long. Now, the symbiotic relationship means that Kristi and Erin are captains of their own ship, with nothing to tie them down.
Along with the impressive new digs, with loads of gently used books for sale, Kristi was able to outfit the space with a couple of tricked out amenities. At the back of the shop is a rolling wall of books that opens into a “secret” back room. That is where poetry and stage readings take place. It’s also an office and a meeting area. There’s even a lofted mediation nook, that is completely out of sight. As an added bonus, the Grant Street location comes with a sizable backyard where customers can relax and read their latest purchases.
As for the new neighborhood, Kristi told me that the residentsare delighted to have Rust Belt Books close by. “We’re getting to know our neighbors, and they’re getting to know us,” she said. “Rust Belt Books is a place where people can come and relax, browse the books, and be comfortable. Someone might be here to meditate in the morning, or relax in the sun in the yard later in the day. We’re spreading our wings a bit on the West Side. This store is a living organism. We could have picked up and moved anywhere… we’re very happy to be on Grant Street.”
Rust Belt Books is a great fit for Grant Street. The shop is super chill, and awaits your arrival. This will be a bookstore that will help to nourish the neighborhood and the city for years to come.
Rust Belt Books | 415 Grant St, Buffalo, NY 14213 | (716) 885-9535