Tucked in the corner of the newly opened Little Bear And Stuff Retail Collaborative, colorful books speckle sand-colored bookshelves and light up the industrial space.
Harvest Moon Books opened on Small Business Saturday — along with the rest of the retail collaborative — and has already seen customers browsing its unique literature collection.
The small bookstore sells a variety of titles, both new and used, with a focus on people of color and indigenous and queer authors.
"Honestly, at this point, it’s been a lot of like, 'What do I want to read?'" Harvest Moon Books owner Robin Babb said about what makes it on the shop’s shelves. "Which, I know at a certain point will probably become a bad idea," she laughed.
A writer herself, the books Babb features at Harvest Moon Books go hand in hand with the topics she is drawn to writing about.
"I write about New Mexico a lot but have ended up writing quite a bit about indigenous issues, the pueblos and the Navajo Nation," Babb said. "And kind of just incidentally because of my interest, (I) ended up buying a lot of books by and about indigenous people."
Babb currently writes for New Mexico Magazine, Edible New Mexico and Southwest Contemporary, previously named The Magazine. She also previously wrote for the Weekly Alibi.
"I think for right now my goal is, frankly, just to see if I can make the writing career plus the bookselling career work simultaneously," Babb said. "If I can do both of them at once, I would be glad."
In addition to fulfilling her own goals, Babb said she also wants to see more book stores open in Albuquerque
"No part of me wants to corner the market," Babb said. "The more the better. If you are considering opening a bookstore, I know it sounds crazy, but do it. It would make me really happy if nothing else."
Babb said opening a bookstore had been on her mind for years, but she never had the time to pursue it.
"(The retail collaborative) makes it a lot easier, and the idea just suddenly made sense now," Babb said, adding that living close to the shop location is also a plus.
According to Babb, the And Stuff Retail Collaborative gave her the opportunity to pursue a bookstore with relatively low financial risk. All the vendors share expenses such as rent, making a "brick and mortar" retail endeavor more manageable for the small shop owners.
"I think (the retail collaborative is) definitely being billed as a very new trendy thing, but it kind of resembles an old consignment store," Babb said. "It’s basically the same thing. It’s a lot of vendors selling out of one space together."
Many other small and local vendors sit alongside Harvest Moon Books inside the And Stuff Retail Collaborative, including minimalist jewelry brand Tumble, The Turquoise Shop, Tres Cuervos, and NeoThread, among others.
Sarah Gonzales founded NeoThread while she was still pursuing a business degree at the University of New Mexico after other students showed interest in her thrift and upcycled style.
"I knew I wanted to start a business on doing good and being in the community and also was a creative business. I didn’t know what that looked like at the time," Gonzales said.
The And Stuff Retail Collaborative is her business' first storefront. In addition to owning and running NeoThread, Gonzales also manages the entire retail collaborative.
"I think what separates (this) is just creating more accessibility for both customers and businesses," Gonzales said. "With us all stepping in and helping each other, we are able to pay these small rented spaces and get to collaborate and be partners in this," adding that all of the businesses in the space are local.
The And Stuff Retail Collaborative is located just down the street from the University of New Mexico at 3123 Central Avenue.
Makayla Grijalva is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MakaylaEliboria