March 22, 2024Pocket Books Shop: An Interview for Women’s History Month

Looking to support women-owned businesses during Women’s History Month? Head over to Pocket Books Shop on Wheatland Avenue in Lancaster City! Owned by three women, Pocket Books Shop is a queer, feminist, and independent bookstore that looks to promote women authors and inclusivity through the books they place on their shelves.

Austin Carter, one of three co-owners explains the mission of Pocket Books Shop. “We have a feminist ethos when it comes to the way we organize our business. That means we are dedicated to equity and championing marginalized voices both in terms of the authors that we represent and the people that we bring in for events.”

In addition to selling books for all age groups, Pocket Books Shop also hosts community events like book clubs and author talks. In addition to books and community events, they sell stationery items and locally made crafts.

When it comes to celebrating Women’s History Month, Carter explains that is something they do everyday. “In particular to Women’s History Month, we aren’t just a women’s business, we’re a feminist bookstore, so we celebrate women everyday. We don’t do anything different because that’s just our baseline. We constantly think about what contributions women, trans women, and non-binary people have made to literature.”

Inclusivity is a key player in every aspect of Pocket Books Shop from the authors they support to the events they hold, and even to the food they provide during events. “We always try to make sure that anything we do isn’t skewed toward the people that are already in power. This means when we are sourcing anything from stickers to where we get food for events, we always think about how we can include local businesses and businesses owned by women or people of color. We’re always trying to do collaborative work with other marginalized people.”

Any person is open to apply to work at Pocket Books Shop. The owners don’t believe in barriers in the workplace and aspire to create a welcoming environment. “When we put out a hiring notice we thought really hard about the description of the work that we’re doing. There are all these boilerplate things that you can put on applications creating barriers. We really tried to think about how these barriers are not actually important for our job and how they exclude certain kinds of people from being able to even feel empowered. The whole Pocket Books Shop brand is that every person should be able to come here and be able to have a great time and find a book to love.”

To further support gender equality and inclusion, Pocket Books Shop offers a subscription called “Pocket Picks.” This service allows the owners to pick a debut novel to promote to subscribers that is usually written by women of color. After picking a book, they package it with special care and include a letter of introduction as well as a sealed letter of their analysis. Carter notes that this provides a small marketing boost for authors in marginalized communities who don’t usually receive much funding.

Similarly to “Pocket Picks,” they also offer a service for readers interested in romance novels as the audience is mostly made up of women resulting in less promotion of the genre. “We have a romance book club due to customers demanded. They love romance so much that they asked for a book club. I realized that we are already doing the work to obtain romance books for our book club, so I asked how can we turn that into another revenue stream?”

“We came up with a swoony subscription which is a romance box that comes out every month and one of the books included is always going to be next month’s romance book club pick. Each box will include anywhere from one to three books depending on the month,” Carter notes.

Additionally, Pocket Books works with various women-owned businesses around Lancaster City to further support the community. “We work with a ton of women owned businesses and organizations including Salt & Light Pastry Co, Clover Tattoo, the YWCA, and Milagro House. We’re just down to work with anybody.”

Overall, Pocket Books Shop hopes to continue supporting marginalized communities and staying true to themselves through the products and services they provide. “We really want to stay true to our ideals and ensure we are aligned with our cause. We will continue to work really hard to make sure that we are not supporting organizations that promote issues not aligned with our business.”