Turn of the Corkscrew to Bring Books and Wine to Long Island

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Carol Hoenig and Peggy Zieran

Carol Hoenig and Peggy Zieran, two former Borders employees with a combined 35 years in the book business, are opening Turn of the Corkscrew, Books & Wine in Rockville Centre, New York, in September.

“We were starting to read about how independent bookstores were reconfiguring themselves,” said Hoenig as she recalled how she and Zieran became inspired to open their own independent bookshop. “People are still excited about physical books.”

Just this past weekend, friends, family, future customers, and bookselling colleagues — including Eileen Dengler and Kerri Leonard of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association — arrived in droves at the shop at 110 North Park Avenue to help shelve and alphabetize its first delivery of books.

After much scouting, Hoenig and Zieran decided on Rockville Centre, situated just outside of New York City, as a prime location for their new venture. “People refer to Rockville Centre as mini-Manhattan,” said Hoenig, and a recent New York Times article about the booming popularity of the Long Island town confirmed the owners’ findings. The shop is within walking distance to the Long Island Rail Road, which connects to Manhattan’s Penn Station, making author and publisher visits very easy, Hoenig noted.

Events are naturally front-of-mind for Hoenig, who worked at Borders’ Park Avenue location in Manhattan as its national events specialist until 2005, when she started her own publishing consultancy. She is also the author of Of Little Faith (Steel Cut Press) and Without Grace and The Author’s Guide to Planning Book Events (both iUniverse Star).

Zieran worked for Borders for nearly 15 years and was the manager of the company’s Syosset, New York, location when she departed.

While not new to the business, Hoenig and Zieran took their time formulating a plan for opening the bookstore — gathering advice from their book industry colleagues, joining the American Booksellers Association and NAIBA, and securing funding through a small business loan and an Indiegogo campaign.

After signing the store’s lease this past May, followed by a trip to BookExpo America to scope out fall titles, Hoenig and Zieran started filling the store with shelving, track lighting, and signage.

The building itself is a 100-year-old house, offering 3,600 square feet of space, complete with a fireplace for cold winter evenings and an outdoor patio for warm-weather lounging. The main retail level will be on the first floor, and the basement will house a kitchen for the upstairs café, office space, and a meeting room for workshops.

Turn of the Corkscrew will offer general interest titles and a large children’s section, as well as a full calendar of programming. “We’ll be doing a lot of children’s events and a story time, plus writing workshops,” said Hoenig. “We have a couple of different spaces that we can dedicate to events.”

Among other non-book items, the shop will carry Rescued Wine Candles, all-natural soy candles that are hand-poured into repurposed wine bottles and give off aromas of different wines; a portion of the proceeds from the candles’ sales will be donated to support animal rescue groups.

“We want to be a community center, so we want to offer as many things to as many people as possible,” said Hoenig. “We want to always have something for everyone here.”

This week, construction began on the bookstore’s bar and café, which will feature a variety of refreshments, including craft beers and locally sourced wines that will be served in glasses engraved with the bookstore’s name.  Customers will be invited to take their drinks — and purchased items — onto the patio to enjoy the outdoors. “We want to create an atmosphere here,” said Hoenig, “and Rockville Centre is so perfect for this.”

Hoenig and Zieran are making their way through interviews with prospective employees and are looking forward to getting staff set up in their new roles. “We had great interviews this past week,” said Hoenig. “Some of [the candidates] had worked for Peggy at Borders, so she knows their work ethic and is excited we can get them into fold here.”

The bookstore’s shelving party over the weekend, which gathered volunteers through Facebook callouts, also introduced the owners to plenty of new customers who are eager for the shop’s doors to open.

“It’s exhausting, but we’re so thrilled,” said Hoenig. “And the community is just so excited.”