Kiern Valjee knows one of the hardest part of starting a business is believing it will succeed. Every day for the past year, he’s told himself his dream of opening a bookstore in Gainesville will come true.
Now this dream is almost a reality.
Third House Books, an independent bookstore selling titles by local authors and small publishers, is set to open in late December in the renovated dining room of the Wine and Cheese Gallery, 113 N Maine St.
“Your third home is your sanctuary,” Valjee said. “Your first home is where you sleep, your second home is your job, but your third home is your community, and that’s what I want my bookstore to be.”
Valjee first had the idea for opening a bookstore after leaving his job as evening supervisor at the University of Florida Education library.
“After leaving my job, I realized there are really only a few small bookstores in Gainesville,” Valjee said. “I wanted to do something about that.”
Valjee decided to open his own book shop, with the hope that it will become a community center.
“People want a place to browse books, but they also want a place to chill and study,” Valjee said. “I want to have a welcoming atmosphere; something comfortable and not pretentious.”
The Wine and Cheese Gallery, which closed on Aug. 15 when its previous owners went out of business, was recently purchased by Maude Wilson, who worked at the restaurant for 13 years.
Wilson plans to reopen the Wine and Cheese gallery, with an updated menu and the new bookstore included.
“The Wine and Cheese Gallery is one of those places that attracts people and keeps them coming back,” Wilson said. “If we expand on the previous owners’ model and modernize it a bit, we can create something that people won’t really find anywhere else in town.”
Third House Books will include a coffee shop and bar, Valjee said. On the other side of the building, the Wine and Cheese Gallery will serve food from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.
Valjee plans to stock the shelves of Third House Books with books from independent publishers.
“That’s really important to me, that the majority of titles we sell are from lesser-known publishers,” Valjee said. “There are some really good writers being published that deserve to be read, and I’d like to support struggling artists and local writers.”
A small, well-curated selection is better than having all the books in the world, Valjee said.
Wilson and Valjee have been busy renovating the Wine and Cheese Gallery since September to make it ready for opening day.
“I’m excited about how different everything is going to be,” Wilson said. “It’s a really inviting space and we’ve really freshened it all up.”
Valjee plans to host author readings and tours at the bookstore, as well as live music and movie showings. He also plans to sell art and jewelry made by local artists.
Valjee said he is most looking forward to the opening day of the bookstore.
“That first day of seeing the store open, with it all finally being real—that’s going to be pretty amazing.”