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Welcoming Watchung Booksellers’ ‘Kids Room’


Montclair welcomed Watchung Booksellers’ Kids Room in early September. Watchung Booksellers has been nestled in its familiar, cozy location on Fairfield Street since 2001. But as owner Margot Sage-EL, Maddie Ciliotta-Young’s mother, began to pass the torch down, Maddie knew the number one issue at the store was space. 

Ever since Maddie joined the Watchung Booksellers team, she wanted to “grow [their] relationship with the schools” by connecting with the students themselves, and decided they needed more space to do so. 

The team always had a dream of opening a second location, but the logistics — and the cost — seemed difficult. After attending a bookstore conference that dealt with financial modeling, Maddie realized Watchung Booksellers could afford to open another store.

It seemed like fate when a space was up for lease just two doors down, because Watchung Plaza is “home,” and they were thrilled to have a location so close to the original. 

Ironing out the logistics of running two stores for the first few months proved difficult.. “Can you staff opening and closing for both stores?” “Can you stay open?” Maddie explained the administrative decisions that came with opening a second location.

The store did not “change inventory at all” in the move, Maddie explained, but because the books were  cramped in the previous space, many visitors remarked on “all [the] new stuff.” which in reality, is not new, just more visible than it previously had been. 

The ability to display books more widely has had a large impact on sales, Maddie said. “Picture books and graphic novels are doing well,” children are more drawn to them when they can see the beautiful art in the open, as opposed to when they are hidden in an abundance of books.

While stocking good books is the main task of any bookstore, the Kid Room has also made it their goal to create an environment that is appealing to children.

 Maddie has found that many kids “just [want to] sit down and read,” giving much use to the rugs scattered around the store, as well as the little furniture that makes the space feel special  for children. 

By creating such an inviting space, Maddie hopes to “help the community raise readers,” because it is impossible to “be a fully realized person without being literate,” and the literary community within Montclair is so special.

What does Maddie  want high schoolers to know about the store? She said, at the end of junior year, students  can apply to be interns at the store in their senior year. It is a very “professional experience,” and gives two to four high school students each year the chance to help with “the general running of the store.,” 

This is a great opportunity for  students  who have an eye for the publishing world or aspire to be an author. Maddie would also love to one day open up the chance for teenage volunteer opportunities at the Kids Room through storytimes and helping with little activities for the kids.

Adding the Kids Room to Montclair has been a gateway into a level of utopia for children. In just a few short months, Maddie Ciliotta-Young has created an enjoyable escape for young readers to curl up and indulge. 


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About the Contributor
Frankie Skerry
Frankie is currently a junior at Montclair High School. When she's not writing, she loves to travel, listen to music, spend time with friends, and bake. Frankie plays for the Montclair High School's field hockey team, as well as does dance. Her favorite shows are Friends, The Office, New Girl, and Gossip Girl. Frankie also loves to read, and her favorite author is Taylor Jenkins Reid.

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