We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Iriarte Dent and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Andrea, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Bookstores have been my happy place since I was a child. I have loved reading since I learned how to do it. When I travel I visit all the independent bookstores in that city or town. They are my great love. I do believe that books are portals to new worlds, catalysts of change, and the best way to transmit culture and ideas. I was at a point in my career and life when I wanted to start something I love, and wanted to share it with others. I wanted to bring something to my community. It just so happened that Melrose was lacking a bookstore. This was a huge gap in the cultural sphere that we could fill, while fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Additionally, I could create my own space, where I could create my own work culture and use it to amplify latino voices. Make it a safe space, a welcoming space, where people can come and have a conversation, or sit quietly.
Once this vision was solidified, I got to work on finding a space, creating a brand and getting the financing. After I found the space, we worked hard to make the space as welcoming as possible and to curate the book collection to reflect our values.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We are a small latina owned independent bookstore. There are not that many of us in the states. But our numbers are growing. And that is a good thing, because we are starting to see our stories in the books we are reading, in the books we are selling. And that means I have started seeing more latino kids coming into the store and feeling comfortable. That is HUGE! Having them come to my bookclubs and story time and feeling comfortable makes me feel so much joy! They know that they are welcome and that if they have questions they can come to me. They come from far because they know that at my store they will be welcome. It really means a lot to me. I had to learn a LOT very quickly, but the booksellers community is an amazing community and they are super willing to share their expertise. If I ever have any questions, all I have to do is send an email and someone is bound to show me the way. The Chamber of Commerce in Melrose has also opened their arms wide for me in the City.

I have learned that partnering with people is the most important thing one can do. Relationships will carry you.
About my brand: Molly was our family dog and the best dog EVER. No other dog could ever compare. She was the sweetest bestest ever. We rescued her from the pound and they told us she was a black lab that would grow to be 40 pounds. She got to be 128! Turns out she had a lot of Newfoundland in her. She was a rug. She had the temperament of a therapy dog. We love her and miss her every day.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would start the day off with breakfast at La Quchara with the best coffee and juices and latinamerican fare you could think of. For dessert I would go to Colette’s.

I would go for a hike in the Fells, develop an appetite and have lunch at Rising Eagle with great american pub fare.
A great walk through the town in our cultural district visiting, Buckalew’s General Store, Ellen Rolli’s studio and Paper & Clay for some shopping. Then Molly’s Bookstore, of course. A short stroll by the pond and then down the Main Street shops to satiate our apetitite with dinner at Turner’s for some great Seafood, and finally grab a bottle of wine at Beacon Hill Wine to take home and enjoy on the patio.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband has been instrumental in my success. He has helped me navigate the complex financing process. He helped negotiate a better lease and handle the contractors. He has believed in my dream when other (particularly finance people) would not. My children have been super helpful as well. They have helped me clean, unpack and work shifts at the store.
And my team members. They have worked side by side with me when the store was still just an idea. They helped me clean up, set up and have listened to all of my crazy ideas. You are the best!!

Website: https://mollysbookstore.com/shop/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mollysbookstorema/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100086960176013

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