“I’ve always felt very at home in bookstores,” says Jen Bird, who recently opened Athena Books in Old Greenwich. And her new independent bookstore feels right at home on Sound Beach Avenue, as though it should have been there all along. “We intend it to be something for the community, a gathering place,” says Jen. Book clubs have already started meeting at Athena in the evenings, and the shop has hosted several author events, encouraging people to get together and share their love of books.
Jen and her husband, Odysseas Kostas, hatched the idea for the new bookstore during the pandemic. “We were doing a ton of reading with our daughters. From time to time we would take a Covid-friendly Airbnb trip to small towns and visit the local bookstore to let our girls pick a book,” says Jen. During one of those trips she turned to her husband and said, ‘Why don’t we open a bookstore?’” He was onboard immediately, and they discovered the spacious location that had enough room to host events.
Though the store carries books for all ages, they specialize in children’s books, stocking new titles and classics. The Athena team, which includes former teachers and book industry pros, has been consulting with local school media specialists to get recommendations. For parents who need birthday gifts, the shop also sells fun puzzles and games, stuffed animals and art-related presents.
Adult readers can enjoy a solid lineup of author events and readings, including upcoming visits from Terri Trespicio, Marissa Renee Lee, Dr. Katie, Tory Henwood Hoen, Lauren McBrayer, Wendy Walker, Corola Lovering and Colleen McKeegan. Book clubs that host their meetings at Athena can bring in light bites and drinks and enjoy a 10 percent shopping discount on the night of their gathering.