Lawn Gnome Publishing to open bookstore on Roosevelt Row

Lawn Gnome Publishing, currently housed in The Firehouse Gallery, will open a new bookstore on Roosevelt Row this February. (Cydney McFarland/DD)

Roosevelt Row will receive a new addition this February when a new bookstore opens its doors on Fifth Street next to Conspire.

Lawn Gnome, currently housed in the Firehouse Gallery, is slated to open on Feb. 1 at its new location. The bookstore will continue owner Aaron Johnson’s experience with literature.

Johnson worked at Barnes and Noble in Flagstaff for six years and has performed slam poetry for eight years. In 2004, he started Lawn Gnome Publishing, which publishes books of poetry, graphic fiction and zines for independent artists.

Most publications Johnson backs are about subjects not funded by large publishing companies, he said.

Lawn Gnome’s new operation will be a used bookstore that will offer trade credit for books.

“I’d eventually like to be able to offer cash,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he publishes sustainable writing using recycled paper, and his store will sell handmade journals made with recycled materials.

He decided to operate his bookstore out of the former Galeria de los Muertos when the space opened up.

“When the space became available I leaped on it,” Johnson said.

Currently, Johnson is working on converting the space on Fifth Street into the bookstore. He has put up hooks for displaying art and is in the process of building bookshelves, which will line all of the walls.

Johnson also said he has asked the community for book donations in a post on Lawn Gnome Publishing’s Facebook page and Roosevelt Row had been helping to spread the word about the opening.

“We have all kinds of arts, but nothing for the literary arts,” Johnson said about the downtown Phoenix area. He hopes that Lawn Gnome will become the community’s literary hub.

Johnson plans on using the bookstore to host poetry slams, book signings and weekly writing workshops.

“It’s in the community’s best interest to have a bookstore,” Johnson added.

President and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership David Roderique said he agrees that the addition of a bookstore will benefit downtown.

“When we ask people what they want to see, a bookstore is always high on the list,” Roderique said. “We don’t have any significant bookstore presence.”

According to Roderique, there is little question of whether or not a small bookstore can survive in the community.

“We have a lot of smaller local businesses doing very well in downtown Phoenix,” Roderique said. “You don’t have to be a chain.”

Journalism freshman Maggie Spear said she will definitely go to the bookstore.

“I’m really excited to have a bookstore that’s closer,” Spear said. “It’s awesome we have an independent arts district.”

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