We are excited to welcome Loyalty Books into our community at Analog Market. An inspiring local book store, their pop-up shop at our cozy home at 923 Gist Ave is a perfect compliment to the quirky vinyl and thrift cafe concept we have been developing the past few months. We asked their co-owner, Hannah Oliver Depp, to introduce Loyalty to our B 'n G community, and tell us about the inspiration and motivation behind starting a small bookstore in the DMV!
When and why did you start Loyalty Books?
Loyalty Bookstores began as a pop-up during the holidays of 2018. After working for years in the book industry, I was frustrated by the lack of progress towards intersectional stores and diversity in publishing. I wanted to make a space in our community for book lovers and storytellers to gather, as well create a store that would impact the book industry with awesome booksellers and show the power of our stories! I am Black, multi-racial, adopted, grew up in the DC and the mid Atlantic area. Christine Bollow, who came on as co-owner this year, is Filipino, second Gen, and queer and has lived all over the country. There are so many like us, we weren’t being given our fair share of the publishing market or jobs in the book industry. Loyally aims to change that and have a good time doing it.
Every business evolves, what are 2 or 3 evolutions of Loyalty that you appreciate the most and bring you joy?
The biggest evolution is going from Hannah owning the store solo when we first opened, to Christine came on as co-owner in February of this year! It’s been awesome having another person committed to diversifying publishing and uplifting the community, but who also comes at it with another set of experiences and different forms of expression. She’s brought so much empathy and joy to our operations.
Another change is how many events and programs, both online and in person, that we do! We have subscription boxes, partnerships all over town, and author events. It brings the store into people’s daily lives in such a fun and impactful way. Bookstores are to be experienced, whether it is browsing shelves, chatting with booksellers, getting a curated box delivered, or finding a new or beloved author at an event. Our programming becoming such a central part of the store experience is just the gift that keeps on giving!
If you had to choose three pillars that guide and are the foundation of Loyalty, what are they?
The first is right in our name! Loyalty is the ideal behind the store and it has to do with how we belong to the community and how the community belongs to us. The other is tenacity. Independent Bookselling is an uphill battle with insanely small margins and bad media messaging about it, so to add in shining a light on the kind of books being banned nationwide and championing often silenced voices, it takes a lot of determination. We wouldn’t be doing anything else with our time. The third is joy. The most incredible thing is to match the right book with the right person -- especially with kiddos-- but honestly, at any age. If you need a Romance, some philosophy, a cultural history, a picture book, I don’t care, I want you to read and feel seen by what you read. The transformative experience of reading is an incredible gift to give someone. While a lot of nonsense is stacked against books right now, it pales in comparison to someone’s excitement at finding the perfect read! When they come back to say “do you have anything else like that?” and, because of our mission, we do? Joy. Pure, incessant joy. That has to be at the center of what we do.
Last three books you read?
Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward
Unrealistic Expectations by Angie J Christopher
Overtime by Will Stronge and Kyle Lewis
What do you love about Silver Spring?
Everyone is here! Every kind of person from every corner of the country and the world. You truly cannot hide in your corner and pretend your version of the world is the only one; you will immediately meet someone who challenges that. And, relatedly, the food! I grew up eating Ethiopian food here of course, but I love that there is always a new spot to discover and more delicious cuisine to learn.
What’s a current quote bouncing around in your brain?
“Please, protect your humanity… When we are faced with so much inhumanity we need an alternative imagination that accepts our humanity, that fights for it, embraces it, and reminds us again and again and again and again that life is not just about resisting all of this, but it is about creating something different, something better.” -Dante Stewart
There is fuel coffee and there is the warmth of coffee! Coffee first thing in the morning is a cue that we are doing the thing! The day is happening. But there is also a moment in coffee- a little bit of warmth and peace and savoring that makes the moment actually happen. As someone who spends most of my time running around like a chicken with my head cut off, taking a second to savor some coffee is semi-sacred.
What’s the last album you listened to all the way through?
Tonight, I listened to Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack from Vince Guaraldi trio and Shirley Bassey’s Something Else. It is a nostalgic moment!
What’s your current favorite song to dance too?
Most days when I need to move I listen to these two:
Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here - Deborah Cox (Dance Mix); Devil’s Dance Floor - Flogging Molly
Want to support the store even further?! The small, independent bookstore is also running an Indie Go-Go campaign to help keep their mission alive and well. Check out the Loyalty Bookstores Fundraiser here!
Also, follow them on Instagram - @loyaltybooks!