Book Bird Founder Brittany Smith, left, with Chasidy Atchison, right, of Banjo Coffee. Photograph by Ben Rollins.

Avondale Estates has welcomed its newest small business: The Book Bird.

An independent pop-up bookshop created by owner Brittany Smith and Banjo Coffee CEO Chasidy Atchison, the 600-square-foot shop at 32 N. Avondale Road occupies a small building also known as the Banjo Lounge just across the street from the coffee shop.

Readers can bring their coffee and bites from the coffee shop, find a comfortable seat, and peruse The Book Bird’s offerings. The space opens to a small gravel lot covered by several sunshades, a game of cornhole, and picnic tables.

I met with Smith in the days leading up to their opening night and we discussed the path that led her to The Book Bird.

A lifelong bibliophile, Smith moved with her husband Mike and three kids to Avondale Estates in 2019. They quickly fell in love with the community and became invested in local groups, and Smith launched the Avondale Book Club with Daphne Godfrey. It was during a conversation with her husband that the idea for The Book Bird was hatched.

“I was just talking to him one day and I said, ‘Avondale Estates really needs an independent bookstore, how cool would that be? Someone should open an independent bookstore,’” she recalled, with a chuckle. “Lo and behold, here we are.”

While opening a new business often takes months or even years from conception to completion, the timeline for The Book Bird was much faster than that. “This whole thing happened like five weeks ago,” Smith said, gesturing around the shop.

Atchison paused in between her tasks to chime in, remembering how Smith alluded to this concept, “‘I have a vision – it involves bookshelves.’” 

Smith had initially reached out to Atchison asking only for business advice. The two became friends from their involvement in the Avondale Book Club, and it didn’t take much conversation before Atchison suggested that Smith try a pop-up in Banjo Coffee’s space just across the street. It was a perfect fit, and the two have been hard at work alongside a team of employees, friends, and volunteers to bring the dream to reality. 

Atchison has relied on her entrepreneurial spirit and years of business experience to advise Smith and work together on this new venture. Atchison launched Banjo Coffee with her husband back in 2015. The concept began as a mobile-only coffee truck but soon it became apparent that they would need a home base for the business.

“After schlepping stuff to five farmers markets a week we decided we needed space,” said Atchison.

They found their current location right at the end of 2016 and officially opened their doors just after Christmas that year. Banjo has since become one of Avondale Estates’ most beloved institutions.

“That’s the story of Avondale Estates, it’s supportive,” said Atchison. “Supportive from the inside. We want the community to flourish and we want to fill the holes, so if we need an independent bookshop let’s make it happen. Let’s make it specialty, quality, but also fun and approachable. As we grow more into it it will develop an even more defined vibe.”

The shop sells not only books for children and adults, but also journals, candles, sketchbooks, puzzles, stuffed animals, pens, stationary, and more. It’s the kind of shop where you can find a new book for yourself, plus gifts for friends and family, all while enjoying a coffee, tea, or pastry. “We have all new releases on the first shelf, mostly from May and some from April,” continued Smith, indicating she intends to turn those titles over frequently and keep it fresh. They also have a dedicated space for local authors with the hopes that it will grow. 

“We are a bookshop, a general book store, but we are more than that,” Smith said. The Book Bird will host a Books & Brews event every Thursday night from 6-10 p.m., live music on Friday and Saturday nights, Avondale Book Club meetings, and they hope to expand even more.

Smith plans to incorporate author events, storytime, food pop-ups, and craft nights with local arts organizations such as Fiber Parts. “We are big supporters of the arts, and we want to incorporate that into this space,” said Smith.

And I was curious, what exactly inspired the name and logo? Depicting a chipper bluebird perched atop a stack of books, The Book Bird logo was designed by Garage Door Studio owner Jen Singh and was inspired by Smith’s great-grandmother, who was a collector of bird trinkets.

“There were these glass bluebirds and when I was a young child I would collect them and give her a new one every year,” said Smith. “When we moved here we noticed that as you drive into Avondale Estates there’s a sign that says ‘Bird Sanctuary.’ Our house also has a huge picture window where we gather with our kids to watch the birds fly in and out. Birds have always been a part of our family in one way or another, so when we talked about ideas one of us suggested The Book Bird. It ties into our family and to the community, too.”

The Book Bird is open Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays noon to 4 p.m. For more information, and to inquire about available books or events in the space, follow along on social media.

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.