A Pedacito of Freebird Books in Brooklyn, NY
Bookstores might be a dying breed, but Freebird Books & Goods in Brooklyn, NY proves that E-Books haven’t fully taken over just yet. Located in the popular neighborhood of Cobble Hill, just minutes from the Brooklyn waterfront, Freebird is owned by Samantha Citrin and Rachel London. Opening its’ doors in 2004, the vintage bookshop has stayed strong in its’ almost two-decade-long operation. With the added stress to small businesses during the Coronavirus Pandemic, I was thrilled to find out that there were still local bookshops near my grandparents’ apartment in Brooklyn. On a recent Sunday afternoon, I paid a visit to Freedbird Books to immerse myself in their unique collection after spending the morning with my family.
Upon stepping into the store, I felt like I was transported into a different time. The shop is made entirely from aged wood. Peter, the resident book expert, sat behind a large wooden counter surrounded by collector items on, you guessed it, wooden shelves. The towers of built-in bookshelves reminded me of a library from the 1800s. The entire construction of the store exudes a historical yet intriguing feel - which isn’t surprising since the shop is known for having one of the largest vintage book collections in Brooklyn.
I was pleasantly surprised by the vast categories of books that Freebird had in stock. From cookbooks on how to make the perfect sushi roll to 70s comics - the extensive collection certainly matched the store atmosphere. My favorite part of the shop contained the novelty books on New York City. An entire wall was dedicated to New York City history. From Yankees memorabilia to maps containing every street in every borough in Manhattan, it’s undeniable that this section was rich with culture. I’ve always had a sentimental attachment to New York City - with it being my birthplace, the home of much of my extended family, and the location of my alma mater - it was nostalgic to look at the rich history of New York in print.
One of my favorite activities when browsing the shelves of a local bookstore is sifting through the bargain section. It’s no secret that paperback and hardcover books can be rather pricey, so finding an excellent novel in mint condition for under $5 feels like a true sale. I found novels from literary heroes like Fitzgerald and Hemmingway in wonderful condition. There were even some quirky finds like The Devil Wears Prada (which is one of my favorite films). The bargain section was like a treasure trove for books that needed a home, which I was happy to give them.
Despite the pandemic, there were several masked-up patrons inside the store, making sure to keep a safe distance from other shoppers. It was fascinating to look at the diversity of people in the store. From young-adults like myself who were glued to the fiction section to families browsing the children’s books, it seemed like everyone was enjoying their Sunday afternoon at Freebird. We rarely get a glimpse of people in their natural habitats nowadays since most of us are staying home, trying to flatten the curve for the safety of our loved ones and ourselves. I had a feeling in Freebird that brought me back to pre-COVID times, where we could roam around stores or spend all afternoon in a coffee shop. Interestingly, we romanticize these points of life as if they were decades prior, but when we get those rare insights of normalcy, it feels special.
Freebird Books & Goods acted as a place of solace for the patrons that glided through the shelves with an armful of books. Something is comforting about a great read and knowing exactly where to get it. I myself walked out with a couple of books that I spent under $10 per copy on. I probably could have found these same titles with less wear on the pages and a glossy cover, but I think pre-owned books hold so much more character. With an incredible vintage collection and bargain prices, it’s no wonder that Brooklyn locals flock to this shop. I wouldn’t be surprised if Manhattanites hopped on the F train to visit this vintage bookstore heaven after COVID-19.
If you find yourself on a stroll in the neighborhood of Cobble Hill, I encourage you to check out Freebird Books & Goods. There are fantastic coffee shops only a few blocks away, like Poetica, that could give you a warm cup of coffee or tea to pair with your new read. Books are a way for us to escape into another world and connect with other people over a common story. Take a break from screen-time and spend a few hours at your local book shop - there’s no telling what you might find.
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