Auburn can now claim a second independent bookstore: Well Red has opened at the old Dayspring location.
Well Red opened Monday with an eager crowd despite the pandemic and thunderstorms rolling through.
Well Red not only has walls of books, but serves a full coffee menu and wine. The bookstore is also inviting to the working community, with lots of tables where people can sit and read or open their laptops.
“I like that it’s cozy like a bookstore but still pretty spread out, and there’s a lot of space to work,” said Alexis Jones, who was working with her laptop at the shop. “… It’s like a normal coffee shop, but more of a home vibe.”
The bookstore is owned by a local Auburn family that has been in the community for a little over 20 years. Robert and Crystal Tomasello were inspired to open the bookstore after visiting a similar shop in Asheville, N.C.
Crystal has been in Auburn since 1999 and Robert since 2000. Both received their degrees at Auburn University and are raising their children in the community as well.
“Auburn is just our home. We love it so much we said we have to start a family here,” Crystal said.
In fact, their 10-year-old daughter Ava worked the front register for most of the opening day.
Opening a bookstore in the midst of a pandemic is not an easy task and came with a lot of difficulties, Crystal said.
“It’s been stressful, but working my family, with my two kids and with my husband has been amazing,” she said.
One of the challenges the pandemic threw at the family was shipping. Shipping for companies around the world was delayed after the coronavirus spread, but for someone trying to open a new business, this can be challenging.
Additionally, the family had to continue paying rent for a while on the Dayspring location without being able to open.
The business had to open with face masks for all employees and a big jug of hand sanitizer right by the door.
“The stressful part is making sure that your employees feel comfortable coming to work, you have the proper PPE for them and for your customers to feel comfortable,” Crystal said.
The community has been accepting of another coffee shop in the area, she said. In fact, two of the employees at Well Red are former Mamma Mocha’s employees who hadn’t been hired back yet after the pandemic.
“They were generous to say yes, go and work here,” she said.
Coffee Cat also posted about Well Red’s opening, which was how some of Monday’s customers found out about the new shop.
“The most rewarding part is seeing everything come to fruition,” Crystal said. “Oh, my gosh, I could get tears in my eyes, working with not only the fine group of people that we have for employees, because they’re so wonderful, is working with my husband and kids and creating a place that they can stay and hang out. We can teach them the value of the dollar, work ethic and how hard you have to work for something if you want a dream to come true is not something everybody gets to do.”
Well Red, at 223 Opelika Road is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.