Columbia seems to have it all — ample restaurants, music showcases and weekly Soda City markets. But there is one thing that the city may be lacking: a local, community-driven bookstore, according to Columbia residents Clint and Jenna Wallace.
That's why the Wallaces are creating the upcoming book store, All Good Books. The independent, family-owned bookstore is set to launch in early 2023 and will house the work of local writers, professors and the greater Columbia community. It will be located in Five Points next to the clothing store SWIFF.
“There are a ton of local authors doing amazing stuff that we just don’t really have a place to celebrate, let alone put their stuff on the shelves," Clint Wallace, a USC professor of tax law, said. "There are big stores that do a little bit of that, but they don’t have the same kind of local focus and feel that we're gonna be shooting for."
Most recently, the business has launched its website and funding page to continue building the new spot.
All Good Books will offer a comforting space for book lovers to unite at the planned café and outdoor patio. Clint and Jenna Wallace said Columbia has an “appetite” for this type of community-focused bookstore.
“We'll sort of promote that in part by having a space where authors can come and do author readings and where people can take a book and sit down and flip through the pages and think about it and have a drink," Clint Wallace said.
The owner and founder of the Main Street bookstore Odd Bird Books, Ben Adams, has also been helping the Wallace’s to open the store.
“Adams has had a very good experience on Main Street," Clint Wallace said. "He really knows the book business.”
Adams said this partnership is a part of his plan to merge Odd Bird Books into All Good Books to create a substantial, independent bookstore in Columbia. Thus, Odd Bird Books will close upon the opening of All Good Books. Adams will become a co-partner of the new store, alongside Clint and Jenna Wallace.
"We (Clint and I) always talked about the possibility that we could work together if the right opportunity came, and I always thought I would probably grow into a bigger space one way or the other," Adams said.
The idea for the bookstore had been in the works for many years but bringing it to fruition wasn't easy, Clint Wallace said.
Jenna Wallace said they had always hoped for the store to be located in Five Points due to their personal love of the area and its closeness to the USC campus. But, the process of securing a spot downtown was not seamless due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think he (Ben) would have and we would have moved into a bigger space more quickly and sort of been ahead of the schedule that we're on if not for the pandemic, so it definitely slowed things down," Clint Wallace said.
Clint and Jenna Wallace know Five Points can be a place for USC student nightlife, but they hope to spark student interest in the daytime scene.
"It’s a little different than the late-night Five Points scene, but we want it to be a scene that students will get into and be excited about,” Clint Wallace said.
Another pull for the building, besides their 8-year-old son declaring it "the right one," was the commitment to its historic preservation. The building is one of the oldest buildings in Five Points, according to the application.
Classifying All Good Books as a historical rehabilitation project with a social mission was another reason the owners were able to secure the location. The tax credits afforded by this distinction will help the business and support the physical restoration of its venue.
“One of the parts of this whole venture is doing this historic rehabilitation on this very cool building that has sort of had many iterations in Columbia,” Jenna Wallace said.
When the bookstore is up and running, the Wallaces encourage students to “come on down and take a look.”