Bookends: Family-owned independent bookstore coming to Ybor City

Sisters Laurie and Teresa Rodriguez’s Ybor City ties stretch back to the start of the 20th Century. Their grandparents and great-grandparents worked in the cigar factories. Their great-grandfather was on of the first licensed plumbers in Ybor.

So when the sisters decided to launch a business of their own, an independent bookstore, Ybor City was the perfect location. Their shop, Bookends: Literature & Libations, is slated to open next June in a historic renovated bungalow on the 2200 block of Second Avenue. 

But Laurie and Teresa Rodriguez are not waiting until then to establish Bookends in the Tampa Bay literary scene and the growing arts resurgence in Ybor. They have a mobile bookstore on the road and have set up shop regularly at the Ybor City Saturday Market and the University of Tampa’s Sustainable Spartan Market. They also regularly put on author talks and events that showcase the literary talent here in Tampa Bay.

Laurie Rodriguez says the two sisters always wanted to start a business that featured the things they enjoy - gathering with friends for a glass of wine and good conversation. The two sisters and Teresa’s husband, Rob Jordan, are also educators who love reading and books. Eventually, they decided to launch a bookstore that would feature Florida authors and books, along with beer, wine and their own homemade appetizers and baked goods. They’ve already gotten started on that part of the business. Laurie made homemade rum cakes for Bookends’ debut event, an April talk at the Tampa Bay Rum Company by the authors of “The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers.”

Bookends was also part of author and historian Sarah McNamara’s event at The Bricks in Ybor City during the recent Tampa Archives Week. Looking ahead, they are hosting a story time with children’s writer Jen Arena, author of “Acorn Was A Little Wild” and “Give,” during the September 9th Ybor Saturday Market and an author talk by Alicia Thompson, author of “With Love, from Cold World.”

“When we go to events we’re usually approached by two or three local authors who have books out,” Jordan says. “It’s amazing how many authors there are in Tampa. It’s a pretty big literary scene. So we want to support them as much as we can.”

They also want to fill the void left after Tampa’s longtime independent bookstore, Inkwood Books, closed in 2019.

“The naysayers always say no one reads books anymore,” Jordan says. “We are finding that is not true. When we are at the Ybor market every Saturday, we see that people love books.”

Laurie Rodriguez says they are also excited about being part of a resurgent and revitalized Ybor City that is seeing an influx of residents and artists.

“It’s really coming back,” she says.

Bookends will be at the Ybor City Saturday Market most Saturdays and at the Sustainable Spartan Market on September 22nd, October 13th and November 17th. Bookends also hosts a Mystery Book Club on the fourth Saturday of every month at Tampa Bay Rum Company in Ybor City.
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.