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News / Business / Clark County Business

New downtown Vancouver bookstore part of bigger mission to get free books to kids

Flirting with Fiction has soft opening today, will have regular hours starting in August

By Mia Ryder-Marks, Columbian staff reporter
Published: July 5, 2024, 6:04am
7 Photos
Kimberly Marcy of Flirting With Fiction bookstore sets up her shop on Main Street in downtown Vancouver. The bookstore will have its soft opening today.  At top, Marcy looks over a Blind Date with a Book package as she sets up her store.
Kimberly Marcy of Flirting With Fiction bookstore sets up her shop on Main Street in downtown Vancouver. The bookstore will have its soft opening today. At top, Marcy looks over a Blind Date with a Book package as she sets up her store. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Kimberly Marcy pulls open a set of pink drapes, revealing shelves of colorful books at downtown Vancouver’s newest bookstore.

Flirting with Fiction, owned by Marcy, will have a soft opening today at 609 Main St. On August 3rd, the store will permanently open.

The bookstore will offer a range of genres from romance to thriller. But there’s a plot twist: The shop’s bigger mission is to provide free books to children across Clark County.

“I thought ‘What a great opportunity to help others find new books and reignite that love for reading, while also helping kids start that flame from a young age by giving them their free books,’” said Marcy, 34.

If you go

What: Soft opening of Flirting with Fiction bookstore

Where: 609 Main St., Vancouver

When: Noon to 8 p.m. today

Connecting community

It all started last Christmas.

Marcy posted on a Vancouver moms Facebook group saying she would like to give away some book bundles to families in the area who needed a bit of assistance during the holiday season.

“When I was younger, I was part of that family who got the Christmas box from the Salvation Army, and I received the package labeled ‘9-year-old girl.’ So I have a soft spot in my heart for those type of kids,” Marcy said.

Many mothers reached out saying they needed help.

Marcy began preparing bundles with a book, small toy and a snack for about 40 kids. Then she checked her spam folder to discover a bunch of other messages from local moms.

“I went from 40 kids to 70 kids overnight. My original plan was, I was going to ask people to pick a number between one and 25, and pick six people from there. But when I saw how many moms were needing help, I couldn’t pick,” Marcy said. “I thought, ‘I can make this work. This is something small for me, that’s going to be big for somebody else.’ ”

With the help of her family, Marcy sat on her living room floor for days wrapping up the book bundles. Once the books had all been delivered, though, Marcy felt empty, she said.

“I wanted to be able to keep connecting with these kids and help more kids because I knew there were more kids in Vancouver,” Marcy said.

“But I knew I couldn’t do it on my own with my own finances. That began the launch of Flirting with Fiction,” Marcy said.

Marcy discovered her love for reading later in life, she said. As a kid, Marcy thought because she didn’t enjoy books like “The Catcher in the Rye,” that meant she didn’t enjoy reading.

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“But that wasn’t the case,” Marcy said.

Marcy then started her online bookstore. Her primary merchandise was the Blind Date book bundle, which comes with a self-pampering item, a cocktail mix, bookmarks and other goodies.

Marcy’s plan was whatever sold from the online bookstore would help fund buying books for a larger group of children at the end of the year.

“But it went crazy and grew so much faster than anticipated in such an amazing way. The book community, both locally and across the U.S., showed up for us,” Marcy said.

Marcy’s goal was to give books to 200 kids this holiday season. She’s currently on track to give books to about 300 kids.

“That’s when I realized this is bigger than just me, which is awesome. But I also work full time and have three kids and am running this bookstore. But I wanted to continue to expand the reach,” Marcy said.

Marcy decided to make the community outreach project into an official nonprofit called Fun with Fiction — that way she can connect to book publishers for donations, receive grants and community members who donate to the nonprofit can receive tax deductions.

Marcy now hopes to donate books to children year-round.

“We want to connect with kids and help them establish that love for reading and the magic of reading early on and throughout the year,” Marcy said.

The bookstore will host community events from do-it-yourself classes to storytimes, children book clubs and book swaps. Marcy also hopes to create a space that cultivates community.

“I see moms from the Vancouver moms Facebook group saying they feel kind of stuck and that they are in need of friends. I think when we become adults, we might lose that ability to make friends and it feels less comfortable,” Marcy said.

The bookstore will hopefully act as a space for people to chat about the books they’re reading and form friendships. Eventually, Marcy would like to open a mobile bookstore to travel around Clark County.

“I want it to be a safe space for everyone in the community to come and read,” Marcy said.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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