When bookworm Benjamin Vengroff would complain to his grandfather that Westhampton Beach didn’t have a bookstore, he’d say, “So open one up!”
Finally taking his grandfather’s advice, the 30-year-old Westhampton Beach native will open a local bookstore on March 21 after starting a website for selling books in the summer of 2020. Both the website and the bookstore are named Red Jacket Books, with the name and company logo being nods to Vengroff’s favorite piece of clothing. And he hopes his “lucky” red jacket will bring good fortune to his business.
“It became synonymous with me, and has become sort of a uniform,” Vengroff says of his red jacket. “Some people liked it and some people hated it, but it made an impression on almost everyone.” He adds, “Something like that, I thought is also the perfect logo. I always joke with my mom, who hated the jacket, that it will someday be in the Smithsonian.”
What’s the story behind the jacket?
Years ago, Vengroff purchased a red baseball jacket and fell in love with it so much that he wore it every day and it became his signature and somewhat of a loyal “friend.” Vengroff explains, “In 2019, a storm caused a tree to hit my house and ruin almost all my belongings. All my coats and jackets were absolutely ruined, with the exception of my lucky red jacket.” Thus, the two have stuck together so it was fitting that they’d be partners in Vengroff’s book business. “I hope for it to become synonymous with a great bookstore.”
Vengroff, who now lives in East Northport, says he sees the pandemic as the perfect time to open a bookstore since reading has become fundamental again for many who find themselves with lots of free time on their hands and not a lot to do for recreation. “With the pandemic, a website selling books seemed like the perfect entryway.” He notes, “Print book sales rose almost 10% in 2020 – the largest annual increase in a decade.” But he adds there’s more to it than that, “I’m doing it because I simply love books. To me, books are timeless.”
A lot of Long Island authors’ works will be featured at the store where some quirky items will also be sold like those on his website such as face masks with the red jacket logo, socks with a library card design, and “Read Banned Books” stickers. For the brick-and-mortar store opening, a weeklong celebration is planned through March 28th during which a free macaron will be given to each customer, there will be a prize wheel and raffles.
Red Jacket Books prices range from $5 for a paperback to coffee books that can go up to around $100. The store, located at 77D Main St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. For further information visit redjacketbooks.com.