Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an error in Red Stick Reads’ physical address. 225 apologizes for this error.
A Baton Rouge couple has taken advantage of the pandemic to turn their love of books and reading into a business.
Teresa and James Hyfield started the boutique bookstore Red Stick Reads in December 2020 on South Eugene Street with the hope of bringing Baton Rouge a local book shop helmed by compassionate book lovers.
James says they wanted to provide a “third space”—besides home and work—for people to spend their time.
“We want to provide our community with the opportunity to get books and stories, to share books and stories, and to be the third space where they come and be comfortable,” he says.
Since the business started in the pandemic, the shop has operated around a social distance-friendly schedule. Tuesday through Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, the shop is open by appointment only, so book lovers can browse on their own. After noon on those days, the shop is open to the general public with no appointment needed. It has hosted story time events for kids and has even been reserved for a child’s birthday party.
The 350 square feet of space is cozy yet provides indoor and outdoor areas to read and hang out.
Since space is limited, each book is hand-selected by Teresa, who seems to know the book world in and out. And through James’ previous job at a local Barnes & Noble, he learned how the bookstore industry works and what novels the Baton Rouge area seeks.
James sees the quaint storefront as a way to curate a collection of books that is small but significant.
“We have reads that we want to read, or that we have heard a lot about and know that there’s a buzz about. We feel comfortable, (and that makes) us comfortable telling you it’s going to be awesome,” James says.
Teresa still holds her job as a teacher, and James runs Red Stick Reads during the week. Maintaining the store themselves makes it easier to put money back into the business, the Hyfields say.
Red Stick Reads participates in monthly tent pop-ups with MidCity Markers Market and has even made it to Earth Day at Beauvoir Park.
On Friday, April 30, they will be hosting a pop-up shop of two local Black-owned businesses that sell comics, art and apparel, Blerd-ish and Lazy Nerds, noon-5:30 p.m.
The Hyfields’ future goals for Red Stick Reads is to expand the business and gain more support from the community.
“My wife and I would love to have a job that we can retire to and that we actually enjoy by supporting ourselves and our family,” James says.