He Grew Up in Ditmas Park. Now He’s Come Back to the Neighborhood to Open a Bookstore

When Andrew Colarusso was growing up in Ditmas Park, he used to get his haircut at Christyle’s barber shop at 1021 Cortelyou Road. Now, more than 15 years later, he is opening his own bookstore, Taylor & Co. Books, in the same building.

“Never would I have truly dared to dream, to allow myself to believe, that I’d open a bookstore in the neighborhood I grew up in,” Colarusso told Brownstoner. “We millennials have been cursed with chronic itinerancy — post-9/11, post-recession. So the far-flung dream of building in the neighborhood I grew up in seemed an impossibility.”

Colarusso, who recently returned to Brooklyn after teaching literature at Brown University in Providence, RI, for seven years, said for as long as he can remember, “I’ve been obsessed with books.”

“Well before I could read or understand narrative structure or poetic form, I just loved books,” Colarusso said. “As a form of technology, I was fascinated by cover art, by the random-access memory of the codex and its table of contents, by pages and their weights and their tactile differences.”

Growing up in his family’s more than 100-year-old Queen Anne-style house on Beverly Road (“that’s been renovated — and the opposite of renovated — so many times over”), it was Colarusso’s stepfather, Arthur Taylor, who gave him his love of storytelling and from whom the store gets part of its namesake.

Together his family would visit Mostly Books, which operated out of 1410 Cortelyou Road from 1978 until the 1990s, a place Colarusso said was “an important and magical place (literally) for my family because our visits there coincided with the rise in popularity of Harry Potter books.” But for years, he said, the neighborhood has been without a bookstore of its own. He said he hoped Taylor & Co. Books would build on Mostly Books’ local legacy.

Taylor & Co. Books will stock new and used books, as well as other items of interest including instant cameras, binoculars and bird guides, home goods, and toys, Colarusso said. But, he added, “of course our focus will be on books.”

sign in window for new bookstore

Signs for the new store are already in the windows. Photo by Susan De Vries

As well as having new titles and more well-known classics, Colarusso said Taylor & Co. Books will feature local authors. “My neighbor, for example, Mr. Keith Holmes, researched and wrote an excellent book on Black inventors from nearly every country in the world,” Colarusso said, adding he recently met poet Shira Erlichman at the nearby Cafe Madeline.

Colarusso said he is in the process of doing the interior design of the ground floor space at 1021 Cortelyou Road and he has three goals in mind: to make it practical, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing. Previously, the building housed gift shop Brooklyn ARTery, which has moved across the street. Colarusso plans on collaborating with the ARTery for readings and other events.

Currently, he is running a Go Fund Me campaign to get things off the ground, with the target of reaching $20,000. In the campaign, he says money raised will go towards covering the $7,500 deposit, first month’s rent of $3,500, new inventory, the installation of furniture, “and other necessities like point of sale software and hardware, website development, utilities and maintenance.”

exterior of brooklyn artery store

The new Brooklyn Artery space at 1004 Cortelyou Road. Photo by Susan De Vries

Colarusso said when the doors are open, and he’s aiming for March 4, he hopes Taylor & Co. Books will provide “a service, a space for cultural dissemination, for gathering and discourse, for escapism, and early childhood literacy.”

“I want Taylor & Co. to feel like a home to anyone who swings by. And once that feeling is there, I hope not only to maintain goodwill and loyalty among patrons, but also manage a sustainable and growing business.”

Taylor & Co. Books’ opening is the latest in a slew of bookshop openings across the borough. Two new bookstores recently opened on Bed Stuy’s Tompkins Avenue, Troubled Sleep debuted in Park Slope in August, and Cobble Hill’s Books Are Magic expanded to Brooklyn Heights at the end of last year.

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