It started with a Facebook post.
An independent bookstore owner in Dallas posted an announcement on Facebook seeking a business partner to run his bookstore, and a local newspaper reporter shared it on his Facebook feed. A marketing consultant sat at her kitchen counter with a glass of wine in hand after a particularly bad day at work. She scrolled down her Facebook feed and stumbled upon the post from the newspaper reporter, Robert Wilonsky of The Dallas Morning News. Motivated by the rough work day, the marketing consultant, Anne Hollander, shared Wilonsky’s post about the business opportunity at Deep Vellum Books in Deep Ellum.
“I love books, I love reading, I love business, I love being able to solve problems, and it seems like this is that perfect match of things, so I shared it out,” Hollander says.
Less than one minute after she shared the post, a man whom Hollander dated the year before, and whom she did not realize was still a Facebook friend, messaged her. He encouraged her to pursue the opportunity and put her in touch with the bookstore’s owner and the originator of the Facebook post, Will Evans. By the time Evans and Hollander met at Drugstore Cowboy later that week, Hollander had talked herself out of running the bookstore. By the time she left the meeting, she had agreed to run Deep Vellum.
“We were able to understand the vibe that we both had, and then we articulated the same vision to each other,” Hollander says.
Six months after Hollander took over the day-to-day operations of Deep Vellum Books, the bookstore went from selling 30 books a month to selling 1,200 books a month. Furthermore, Deep Vellum now curates the book selection at Serj Books and Local Food, which displays 250 books in their downtown bookstore and coffee shop. This summer Serj Books will open a second location where it will showcase between 1,200 and 1,500 Deep Vellum books.
Hollander also shaped Deep Vellum into a locus for the Dallas poetry scene, and the bookstore hosts seven local poetry groups throughout the month, including Dallas Slam Poetry, Pandora’s Box , and a group new to the Dallas poetry scene, Dark Moon Poetry.
“I love Dark Moon Poetry that’s hosted by Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi,” Hollander says. “It’s a women and female identifying poetry group, but she brings in three or four headliners once a month to come up and perform.”
Hollander’s goal is to harness the power of social media and the Internet to connect different literary communities in Dallas into a single calendar, powered by Do214. Do214 is a website that showcases events in the Dallas area. Do214 employees provided Hollander with a platform on which to create a “#LiteraryDallas” calendar, and the website will integrate that calendar into the overall Do214 website. This way, even if one is not purposefully searching for literary events in Dallas, the events will be showcased regardless.
One year ago, Hollander sat at her kitchen counter with a glass of wine reading a Facebook post about a Deep Ellum bookstore. Today, she runs that bookstore and uses her position to shape the Dallas literary community into one that rivals Seattle and Portland. No small feat, admittedly, but after achieving demonstrable success in one year, the question remains – what can’t Hollander do?