Independent bookstore is opening this fall in Bellefonte’s vibrant business community
An independent bookstore and cultural space is in the works for downtown Bellefonte.
Print Factory, an “antiracist, feminist, and queer-inclusive artist- and worker-run organization,” will have a home at 130 S. Allegheny St., Bellefonte. Its directors recently signed a renewable five-year lease for the space and will begin some construction updates inside the building in June, Melissa Stitzer, a director, said during an interview in early May.
“Luckily, it’s really cosmetic stuff just to update the building. There’s already some great things inside that we hope to keep. It’s got a great personality, a great vibe in there,” Stitzer said. The plan is to open by Small Business Saturday in November, but it’s possible they’ll open before then.
Jonathan Eburne, Elena Quiñones, Angie Bowman and Stitzer all had the same vision for a bookstore and knew that Bellefonte was the place to do it. They came together as directors to bring their dream to life.
Print Factory’s mission statement focuses heavily on inclusivity and it’s important that the space reflects that, from how the bookstore is stocked to what programming is offered and how its run, Quiñones said. If someone walks into the bookstore and says “I want a book that has a character I can relate to,” Stitzer said it’s important to provide that “magical place” for them.
“The focus of the Print Factory is to offer space for intellectual and creative life to the community. For us, it’s important that that is happening in Bellefonte, rather than say, State College, where it feels like there are a lot more resources through the university especially, already pulled around some of those efforts,” Quiñones said.
As a parent of a teenager, Eburne said he is aware of the need for places where people can hang out, especially after school. There are established institutions in town that help, but the need is still there, he said. Providing a place where people can gather together in a safe and meaningful way, will be an asset to the growing community.
There’s also a lot of literary and artistic work that happens in the hills and valleys of the region, and having a space in the Print Factory for local authors is essential, the directors said.
Beyond books, Print Factory will also have different programs and workshops for the community for all ages, kids and adults. Participating in intellectual and creative life is an important part of living, Eburne said.
“When you’re making things with other people, whether you’re fixing a car, cooking, working in a field or typing on a typewriter with a group of people on other typewriters … you’re going to have conversations that are going to evolve out of that. When you work together with other people, things happen in good ways,” Eburne said.
The group has already begun pitching ideas for workshops and programs, and plans to have collaborations with others. There are several businesses nearby they can have block parties with, for example, said Stitzer, who previously owned the Cakery in Bellefonte and has been part of the vibrant business group downtown for several years. The sense of community among those business owners, and the people living in and visiting the area, “is just amazing.”
“Everybody wants to see that continue to grow and … the bookstore was one thing we were definitely missing in town,” Stitzer said.
Print Factory is a nonprofit and is currently taking donations to fund its first year of operations via GoFundMe. The idea of crowdfunding is important to them, Eburne said, and smaller contributions are a nice way to interact with people.
Their goal is to raise $50,000, which will go toward things they need to be functional, like book stock, book shelves, equipment, and rent and utilities, Quiñones said.
By not having to generate all of their income through sales, it allows them to uphold their mission by providing programming and materials that are accessible and affordable for people to participate, Eburne said. They recently received a grant and will continue to apply for more; the directors feel positively that they’ll be in good shape to open in the fall.
For more information, visit printfactorybellef.wixsite.com/my-site-3. To donate, visit gofundme.com and search “Help Launch the PRINT FACTORY in Bellefonte, PA.”