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Mobile Bookstore Can Take Women’s Empowerment Anywhere

By La Prensa Staff


Linda Alvarado-Arce is taking her bookstore on the road—to wherever it’s wanted or needed.


Ms. Alvarado-Arce is shunning the traditional bricks-and-mortar bookstore in favor of a more unique approach, with a library on wheels concept that will allow her to take her mobile bookstore to events and directly to customers. She likens her new bookstore business model to a food truck, which can take a restaurant on the road to where the crowds are gathered.


“This expands my reach. Instead of sitting around, waiting for people who may be interested or walking by the store, I’m actually taking it to different locations,” she explained. “It’s a food truck for the mind. I actually have that on the bus—it says that.”


Ms. Alvarado-Arce has spent more than a year converting a repurposed transit bus into a mobile bookstore—even reusing shelving from her former fixed location. But she kept some seats on the bus for a reading room—or to transport a group of women to a protest if she wants to do so. She sees this venture as much as a mission as it is a business—thus the name: People Called Women.


“I’m obviously not going to become a billionaire only selling feminist and women-only books,” she said with a laugh. “It’s about planting seeds. It’s about empowering women. It’s about making sure there are books out there that women can read that are specific to them, promoting other women, women authors only, just giving voice specifically to the woman.”


Ms. Alvarado-Arce explained it can be uncomfortable for a woman to go into a chain bookstore in search of a book on domestic violence, human trafficking or rape, then stand in line to buy it. Someone “exploring their sexuality or gender” may find it even more “uncomfortable,” she said, explaining “there’s a stigma attached to it.”


Her mobile business is as much boutique as bookstore—also offering bumper stickers, magnets, post cards, T-shirts, scarves, and purses, among other items. There are children’s books, books in Spanish, and books from other cultures and religions. Her home inventory numbers 6,000 books. So she can tailor her mobile bookstore to the potential audience she’ll see at a particular event. For example, family-oriented, Spanish-language and children’s books will make up the inventory when she travels to a Día de los Niños event at Escuela SMART Academy in April.


“Amazon has Treasure Truck that does something like this in big cities. There are people who have made jewelry stores inside of buses or old trolleys,” she said. “There are people who have turned dog grooming out of a bus or a van, so not really that unique, just unique for this area.”


Ms. Alvarado-Arce is as much educator and advocate as she is entrepreneur. There are still some women who hold traditional views of a female’s place in the home—and in society.


“It has its followers and it has those who don’t understand what feminism is,” she said. “There are still a lot of women who don’t believe a woman should make more than her husband or that women should even make more money than men, or that the woman’s role is to be more submissive. There’s still this breakthrough and I still have arguments with people over it.”


As a result, there are places where Ms. Alvarado-Arce and what she calls a feminist bookstore won’t be welcome, because she so strongly advocates for equality—in her words, “equality of opportunity, equality of income, equality of respect.”


This is an important time for her to “roll out” the newest version of her venture—because March is Women’s History Month nationwide. Lourdes University just asked her to take the mobile bookstore to their Sylvania campus for a presentation on women’s history.


A female University of Toledo student designed all of the unique logos and visuals that make up the outside of the bus, which Ms. Alvarado-Arce described as “art.”


“I’ve taken it to different places, just to check the pulse—and everyone loves it. They love the exterior of it. It’s even carpeted,” she said. “It’s got a tree inside, it lights up. It’s even handicap accessible, so even if you’re in a wheelchair, you can still come into the bookstore, because it’s got a hydraulic lift.”


Ms. Alvarado-Arce is trying to marry a website and social media to her mobile bookstore, to take advantage of all the modern business trends. That allows her to special order books, process online orders, connect with customers, and keep the business afloat from home between events on the road. The bookstore has a presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


“This creates community, wherever I take it,” she said. “I’ve always loved books. I also love planting seeds. This just lets me reach out to more people.”


Anyone who wants the mobile bookstore to attend their event or program can contact Ms. Alvarado-Arce directly via email at pcwtoledo1@yahoo.com




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Revised: 03/03/20 11:49:12 -0800.




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