For this local couple, starting bookshop 'A Great Notion' in Auburn

Courtney and Tyler Galicia in their new bookstore, A Great Notion, in Auburn.
Courtney and Tyler Galicia in their new bookstore, A Great Notion, in Auburn.

AUBURN — Sometimes, what it takes to start a business is courage, resolve and money.

Other times, like in the case of local bookshop owners Tyler and Courtney Galicia, it mostly takes love for books and community support.

The Worcester couple, aged 33 and 29, opened the doors Saturday to their own bookshop in Auburn, with book donations from the communities around them.

What is now complete and called A Great Notion, the Galicias said was an adventure waiting to happen.

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Tyler, an Auburn native who works as an English teacher at Uxbridge High School, is said to have always nursed a passion for books, which in time, gave way to his vision of owning a bookshop.

“I love books. I love reading,” said Tyler. “Her and I have always talked about doing this one day, maybe 20 years, 30 years.

“Why not now?”

Their turn

The Galicias, who were married two years ago, said to have shaped the concept by driving to other bookshops around the state, citing ones in Montague and Hadley.

Last November, it was their turn.

New bookstore, A Great Notion, in Auburn.
New bookstore, A Great Notion, in Auburn.

They took to social media, asking for donations on Facebook pages where they were sure to get many eyes from different communities.

They also credited friends and family for spreading the word about their plans, even donating furniture “that otherwise was just gathering dust in their basements.

"Before I know it, we had a pallet full of books,” said Courtney, who is originally from West Brookfield. “Our living room was not habitable for a while.”

The Galicias also bought from a website called Books by the Foot, a Washington, D.C.-based project where they sell used books at $6.99 per — like the name says — linear foot of random choices organized by genre.

The collection grew to over 2,000, ranging from classic literature to children’s modern works.

By Dec. 1, the couple stepped foot for the first time inside Suite 101 at 65 Southbridge St. in Auburn, where two months of work followed before they could open the doors to their shop.

For the last touch — the name — Tyler turned to his favorite book by author Ken Kesey called “Sometimes a Great Notion,” in which a fictional family in 1960s Oregon supplies wood for the local mill independently despite a displeased logging union and the rage of the locals.

Kesey’s works, often characterized by their rebellious themes, are also part of the canon on the Galicias’ shelves.

“I felt (the name) was very fitting, all things considered,” said Tyler.

The shop

The shop itself is maybe bigger than anyone’s living room, with a coffee station and comfortable chairs and couches as no man’s land between adult literature and children’s literature.

In a special section by the entrance, Tyler couldn’t help himself compiling a collection of special picks with short synopses and what makes the books worth reading.

These works include “Blood Meridian” and “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy, “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead and “Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

In addition to those works, the usuals of action, romance, fiction and nonfiction — new and like-new alike — line one side of the shop.

On the wall opposite the adult section, children’s literature takes precedence with works by Roald Dahl, E.B. White, “Madeline” by Ludwig Bemelmans and “Paddington Bear” by Michael Bond, among others.

Both coming from the local school systems, the Galicias felt it was necessary to have a significant children’s collection in the shop.

This was true especially for Courtney, who most recently worked as a school adjustment counselor for six years at Blackstone-Millville Regional High School and Charlton Middle School.

She parted ways with that profession to work full time at the bookshop, but the passion to work with children will now be channeled into the shop.

“Working in education is very, very draining at times,” said Courtney, “especially as a counselor with the mental health epidemic. It was a lot.

“But I think that for us, it made sense for us to make a pivot now because I still love working with children. I just wanted to do it in this capacity.”

Family trivia nights

To offer local children something to do during school vacation week, the Galicias kept the shop open throughout the whole week, even though their hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Come March, they will start book clubs, such as Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. for ages 6 to 8 to discuss “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton, and Thursdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. for ages 9 to 12 to discuss “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by “you-know-who.”

Saturdays, the bookshop will be open for family trivia nights.

“The best case scenario plan I think is have this stuff go really well,” said Tyler. “We want to really get involved with the book clubs and getting the kids in here.

“We will have local authors coming in for talks and then hopefully we can hire a couple extra hands, add a tutoring center and maybe eventually expand.

“The biggest thing for us right now is getting people in the door.”

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: For this local couple, starting bookshop 'A Great Notion' in Auburn