Gift Elizabeth's Bookshop

Celebrate and Uplift Marginalized Voices with a Gift From Elizabeth’s Bookshop

Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre was created to amplify and celebrate marginalized voices.

By Amanda Bruno

“[Rachel Cargle] is a black, queer woman. She is an activist and an influencer, and she fell into some fame in 2017 when she was photographed at the women’s march in DC,” Carrie George, manager of Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre said.

Cargle used that moment of fame to build a foundation that is committed to showing up for communities of color: The Loveland Foundation.

“The Loveland Foundation gives free therapy to black girls, women, and gender expansive adults,” George said. From the foundation came Elizabeth’s Bookshop.

Growing up, Rachel Cargle didn’t see people like her featured in books. She wanted to change that and create a bookstore featuring only marginalized authors.

Originally from Green, Ohio, Cargle spent time in Brooklyn before moving back home to be closer to her mother. She wanted to bring the indie bookstore vibe from the East Coast to Akron - but with a twist.

First, Cargle had to figure out where her bookstore fit in. Instead of choosing what some might see as a trendy area, Cargle decided on Middlebury. 

Elizabeth’s is located at 647 E. Market St., Unit 3.

“Middlebury is a disenfranchised neighborhood in Akron,” George said. “So, this is another way to add some flare to this neighborhood and get people to come out here.”

“What differentiates an indie bookstore and Elizabeth’s from a big box store is that we are incredibly familiar with all of the books on the shelves and can really give you a personalized recommendation,” George said.

According to George, Cargle often calls the bookshop a gift to her younger self.  Perhaps that's why she gave it her middle name, Elizabeth. “You can’t go to just any bookstore and exclusively see those kinds of books,” George said.

The Loveland Foundation, which allowed Cargle to open the shop is still part of Elizabeth’s. 

“A portion of all of our sales goes to the Loveland Foundation,” George said. “So, any purchase you make here is supporting free therapy for black girls, women, and gender expansive folks.”

Carrie George hasn’t always been the manager of Elizabeth’s.

She started as a bookseller and worked her way up to manager, using her Master of Fine Arts in Poetry to start the shop’s weekly poetry workshops.

Along with writing workshops, Elizabeth’s also offers Queer, BIPOC, and All Reader Meetups. The first hour of each meetup is dedicated to reading and the second hour is for socializing to help build the community around the bookshop.

Elizabeth’s associates are always ready to meet whoever stops by.

“We are friendly, we are welcoming, we are kind of the human version of the algorithm to help you find your next read,” George said. 

This bookshop takes it one step further and works directly with community members to advance reading and awareness of marginalized communities. 

“Part of being an indie bookstore is increasing literacy, readership and communities, exposure to different types of books and inviting people in to meet other people,” George said.

Elizabeth’s is a prime example of small businesses working together. Located inside of local coffee shop, Compass Coffee, you can also find products from other small businesses offered in the space. 

“We carry a selection of products from local vendors. So, black-owned businesses, artists, and makers. We have some candles, body products, Akron honey, Akron on Deck playing cards, and some bookish products as well,” George said.

How should you shop the store for moms, dads, or grads? Simply walk in and speak with an employee about who you are shopping for. 

They will ask questions and point you to the perfect read. They can also help you pair it with a candle, a body butter, or a bookish accessory to enhance your recipient’s reading experience.

If the person you’re gifting enjoys writing, purchase a gift card and then take them to Elizabeth’s weekly poetry workshop, every Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon. No registration is required, and the workshop is free.

Their website describes the workshop as a “generative poetry workshop with a friendly and supportive community of writers.”

George said that Elizabeth’s is interested in opening its own storefront in the future.

“There are so many books by these amazing authors…It is definitely possible that we would have a bigger location with way more books and a lot more space,” she said. 

For now, Elizabeth’s Bookshop and the Loveland Foundation are working through the Compass Coffee location to change the way people view and approach the world.

“Today I am free and bold and curious and indulgent and seeped with the glorious possibilities of what’s ahead,” Rachel Cargle said.

Find Elizabeth’s Bookshop at its website, or visit Elizabeth’s on Instagram or Facebook to receive event announcements. 

(Top) A bookseller recommendation from the Elizabeth's Facebook profile. (Below) Elizabeth's Bookstore manager, Carrie George, accepting an honor for community engaged learning on Friday, May 3, 2024 at The University of Akron EX[L] Center awards for a project that brought an author to meet students during UA's Rethinking Gender series.

Photos of the bookshp as well as a new release that arrived at Elizabeth's in March. Photos via Elizabeth's Bookseller Facebook.

To reach content author Amanda Bruno,  email her here.

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