Brooklyn Community-Minded Bookstore WORD Branching Out With Jersey City Shop and Cafe

A Brooklyn bookstore is branching out with a new store in Jersey City in late spring or early summer this year.

WORD, a book shop founded in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood five years ago by owner Christine Onorati, is coming to Newark Avenue in Downtown Jersey City. The bookstore posted a teaser on their Tumblr late Friday (seen above) announcing that they were Chilltown-bound. They will be moving into a space near the Grove Street PATH Station, right next to Roman Nose, an Italian eatery owned by Onorati’s cousins, brothers Frank and Raymond Fiore.

“My husband and I have cousins who have lived in Jersey City for the last 10 years or so, and they’ve tried to get us to open another store there for years. They love JC and felt like many other residents were as hungry for new retail as they were, and that independent businesses are supported and appreciated,” says Onorati.

While visiting Roman Nose, Onorati and her husband got the idea to open a WORD next door that would offer the same community focus their original store in Brooklyn does. As WORD states on its website, “Our primary goal is to be whatever our community needs us to be…In addition, we’re fiends for a good event, from the classic author reading and Q&A to potlucks and a basketball league (and anything set in a bar).”

With encouragement from the guys at Barcade, a bar/arcade at Newark and Barrow that has already seen success since branching out to JC from BK in 2011, Onorati decided that Jersey City sounded like “a great place to be.”

The Jersey City space is about 2,500 square feet — two-and-a-half times bigger than their Brooklyn store — and they’ve got bigger plans for it, too. WORD Jersey City will include a cafe, which will double as an event space for literary events and gatherings, and will feature a mix of new books, stationery, kids’ gifts and toys and some clothing. Onorati adds that they want to get involved with local organizations, literary programs, schools and more like they have in Greenpoint.

Some people have called JC the new Brooklyn, and Onorati sees the similarities.

“I feel like Greenpoint and JC are very similar in the tastes of the residents. Greenpoint feels like a slightly more community-focused neighborhood than nearby Williamsburg where people seem to come and go quite often (and) feels more transient and touristy,” she says.

“I feel like JC is similar in that regard, that people move there to put down roots, raise a family, really get involved in their community…It will take some time to make sure we are what the neighborhood needs us to be — it’s like the beginning of a new relationship, we’ll have a getting-to-know-you phase — but I’m confident we’ll get along great.”

For those interested in working at Onorati’s new store, the JC branch isn’t quite hiring yet but anyone interested can shoot an email to info[at]wordbrooklyn.com. Bookstore or barista experience is preferred, but not essential.

WORD Jersey City will only be the second traditional, physical bookstore in the city when it opens. The only one serving the community right now is Tachair Bookshoppe, located further uptown.

For more information, visit the WORD Brooklyn website.

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.