Charis Books & More was a mainstay of Little Five Points for 45 years, making it one the oldest feminist and LGBTQ bookstores in the country. Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Octavia Butler, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Leslie Feinberg and bell hooks are just some of the feminist icons who regularly read or visited Charis over its long history.
When Charis announced two years ago that it was entering a partnership with Agnes Scott College and moving to Decatur, there were both jitters and excitement from the community.
Put those jitters aside. Charis is bigger and better than ever, and, somehow, has magically retained the feel of the little pink house it occupied in Little Five for 25 of those 45 years. As soon as you walk in the door, it feels like Charis.
The new Charis, located at 184 S. Candler St., is housed in a 1901 Victorian home that was completely renovated by Agnes Scott as part of the partnership. The shop sits adjacent to the college’s large Candler Street parking lot, which can also be used by patrons.
ER Anderson, the executive director of nonprofit Charis Circle, which plans programming, author events and fundraising for the shop, said 170 volunteers helped move the store in March in time for its April 1 opening. The opening was delayed after significant termite damage was discovered, but Anderson said this offered Charis an even greater opportunity.
“We’ve kept the charm of the exterior of the home, but inside we totally rebuilt it with accessibility in mind,” Anderson said.
Walls were removed, doors widened and a ramp installed from the driveway all to make the new Charis accessible to those with disabilities. Environmentally friendly bathroom fixtures, lighting, paint and flooring were also part of the renovation, Anderson said.
Along with the main shop floor, which now has a section dedicated to Agnes Scott swag, there is a large room in the back with a kitchen for author events and workshops, plus there is now office space for the store and Charis Circle.
And while Charis is still the go-to for feminist and LGBTQ titles, Charis co-owners Sarah Luce Look and Angela Gabriel said the shop is also a “neighborhood bookstore.” Look said residents had already been popping in to buy and order books.
“I think the space is beautiful,” Look said. “It’s liked we picked up the old store and moved it here. And made it much better.”
Appropriately, Charis will hold an official grand opening on Independent Bookstore Day, this Saturday, April 27, from 10 am.. to 7 p.m. There will be special appearances by bestselling author Tayari Jones from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and children’s author Breanna McDaniel from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m.
A full slate of events at the new store has also been announce for May, including author appearances by Fiona Zedde (May 3), Andrea Lawlor (May 7), Jenny Brown, (May 14), Megan Griswold (May 15), and the return of the monthly Cliterati poetry open mic on May 16 featuring Alice Lovelace and Louise Runyon.
For a full line up of events, visit chariscircle.org.