A Baton Rouge couple have taken advantage of the pandemic to turn their love of books and reading into a business.
Teresa and James Hyfield started the boutique bookstore Red Stick Reads, on South Eugene Drive, in December 2020 with the hope of bringing Baton Rouge a local bookshop helmed by compassionate book lovers.
James Hyfield says they wanted to provide a “third space”—besides home and work—for people to spend their time.
“We want to provide our community with the opportunity to get books and stories, to share books and stories, and to be the third space where they come and be comfortable,” he says.
Because the business began during the pandemic, it has operated around a social distance-friendly schedule. Tuesday through Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, the shop is open by appointment only, so book lovers can browse on their own. After noon on those days, the shop is open to the general public with no appointment needed. It has hosted story time events for kids and has even been reserved for a child’s birthday party.
The 350 square feet of space is cozy yet provides indoor and outdoor areas to read and hang out.
Since space is limited, each book is hand-selected by Teresa Hyfield, who seems to know the book world in and out. And through James Hyfield’s previous job at a local Barnes & Noble, he learned how the bookstore industry works and what novels the Baton Rouge area seeks.
He sees the storefront as a way to curate a collection of books that is small but significant.
“We have reads that we want to read, or that we have heard a lot about and know that there’s a buzz about. We feel comfortable, (and that makes) us comfortable telling you it’s going to be awesome,” he says.
Teresa Hyfield still holds her job as a teacher, and her husband runs the business during the week. Maintaining the store themselves makes it easier to put money back into the business, they say.
Red Stick Reads participates in monthly tent pop-ups with MidCity Markers Market and has even made it to Earth Day at Beauvoir Park.
The couple’s future goals for Red Stick Reads is to expand the business and gain more support from the community.
“My wife and I would love to have a job that we can retire to and that we actually enjoy by supporting ourselves and our family,” James Hyfield says.
Red Stick Reads is at 541 South Eugene Drive.
This story was first published by 225 magazine. Subscribe to the free 225 Daily e-newsletter to keep up with Baton Rouge food and events.