Thursday, September 14, 2023

@inklingsbook, Lakeland, Fla., Looking to Move Downtown

Inklings Book Shoppe, a used and new bookstore in Lakeland, FL is in the process of relocating to 243 N Florida Ave. and E. Bay St.  2 Blocks North of Mumm Park near downtown Lakeland from its longtime space on South Combee Road. 

The Ledger reported that co-owners Finley and Carmen Walker said the move would be a dream come true, bringing Inklings "to a more centralized, pedestrian-friendly location after existing as a 'hidden gem' for over 40 years."

"We are the definition of a small business trying to make things work in the community they are in," Finley Walker said.

The owners are seeking permission from the city's Planning & Zoning Board to modify the historic building's designation to offer a small coffee bar and small pre-made pastries on site, the Ledger noted. A first hearing was held August 15 on the issue, with a second hearing and possible vote slated for September 19.

"Part of our responsibility as a bookstore in the community is to offer a space for people to have intellectual conversation," Walker noted.

The Walkers purchased the business--previously known as Book Bazaar--in January 2020, from Sharon and Bob Daley. During the Covid pandemic, Inklings launched its first website and Facebook page, along with changes in the inventory mix. These and other strategies have brought new customers into the shop, Walker said, adding that the business's mix is now 50% new customers and 50% returning. Overall profitability has been up by 10% to 15% per year for the last four years.

Walker said the move to Lemon Street will be the first time the bookshop has changed venues in more than 25 years. Though it is a smaller space, he believes he can use it more efficiently than the current layout.

"We are proud, happy and believe there's a lot more potential," he said.

If you would like to donate to help Inklings Book Shoppe relocate you can do so via the owners Cashapp account $FinleyWalker currently they need help with the cost of making new shelves and counters as well as the cost of moving all of the books to the new location.   

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