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Big Red Books Looking to Boost Nyack’s Reading Culture

“I’m trying to build a community around Big Red,” said Richie Fulco, owner of Big Red Books, on Main Street in downtown Nyack.

Big Red Books hosts workshops and readings, such as this one on Saturday, Dec. 16, featuring local writer Terri Thal. (Photo by Andrea Swenson)

“I’m trying to build a community around Big Red,” said Richie Fulco, owner of Big Red Books, on Main Street in downtown Nyack. The name refers to the store’s prominent red couch that anchors the center of the space.

Since opening in September, patrons from Nyack and beyond have embraced the independent bookstore, not just for its 4000-plus books, but its many in-store events. 

“People are starved for in-person events. During Covid, it seemed to me that people wanted to come back to stores,” he said. “I want people to think of this space more like a library, where people can strike up conversations with me and with each other.” 

Fulco holds events two to three times per week, such as poetry readings, author talks, workshops (on topics such as national novel writing month and humor-writing), book launches, local author days, and more. He plans to start Nyack-wide books clubs that discuss literature and translated books.

Nyack and Rockland County writers have made their presence known, he said. He has met with about 30 of them in the past few months.

Fulco, who has written novels, poetry and plays, says he relates to his patrons through his background in education (he was a long-time high school English teacher), in the music world, and in other bookstores.

Big Red Books owner Richie Fulco hopes to foster community and expand minds. (Photo by Andrea Sweson)

Nyackers, Fulco said, read a lot of fiction, history, self-help,  children’s books, and surprisingly, poetry. 

“I can’t believe how many poetry books I’ve sold,” Fulco said.

He says the store’s offerings are influenced by award recognitions (Pulitzer, Nobel, Booker, Caldecott and science fiction’s Hugo), his personal favorites, and publishers’ and customers’ recommendations. Fulco says he consulted subject matter experts for help finding arts, food, science fiction and children’s books.

Last January, Fulco said, he was visiting Nyack when inspiration struck. 

He walked past the former fro-yo shop on Main Street and thought, “‘This is it!’” Fulco said. “Nyack needs more than just bars and restaurants – we need more retail.”

A father and daughter and dog checking out books inside of Big Red Books. (Photo by Andrea Swenson

His retail business is selling books, but hopefully more than that.“I’m also providing personalized services, such as locating a specific title and community services like story times for kids.”

Another crucial advantage of the neighborhood bookstore is its ability to support the Village by selling products from local creators and carrying items from other local retailers. Last Saturday, Nyack author Terri Thal read from new book, My Greenwich Village: Dave, Bob and Me in front of dozens of locals. 

One of Fulco’s main goals of the shop is to facilitate human contact. 

Big Red Books owner Richie Fulco hopes his store will become a community hub. (Photo by Andrea Sweson)

“It’s what people want,” Fulco said. “Our culture is low-brow – what we read, watch, eat – everything’s fast. It could be more thoughtful. I want to give people space and time to browse and to read.” 

In this way, reading books, Fulco believes, can be transformative. 

“We have a lot of social content,” he says, “but literature will challenge you and make you uncomfortable and open up your world.”

Editor’s note: For more on Big Red Books, check out their Facebook page. Check out more Andrea’s photos below:

See more of Andrea’s recent Photo Shoots here and find even more of her outstanding work on Instagram.

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