West Potomac graduate opening independent bookstore in Old Town

Ally Kirkpatrick will soon be opening Old Town Books in the City of Alexandria. (Alexandria Living Magazine image)

A new, independent small bookstore with unique finds, up-and-coming books and a local focus will be opening on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 24.

Old Town Books will be located in a 1790s warehouse building at 104 S. Union Street, next to Starbucks and across the alley from Virtue Feed & Grain.

Founder Ally Kirkpatrick grew up in the Fort Hunt area and is a graduate of West Potomac High School. Opening her own independent bookstore has been a long-time goal.

Old Town Books will be focusing on new releases, up-and-coming authors, and unique and interesting books. The store will also have a merchandise section, focusing on literature and book-related items, including gifts and stationary.

Kirkpatrick said she can get most books to her shop in less than 24 hours – even beating Amazon Prime delivery — and customer service will be unparalleled.

The shop will host a variety of events including story time, upcoming holiday talks with famous food authors, and publishing workshops for local authors. “I want [Old Town Books] to be a connective fiber for the literary community,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick is opening the store for six months as part of an Alexandria Economic Development Partnership pop-up program, and she is looking for a permanent home for the bookstore in Old Town. The program, called Pop-Up ALX, helps small businesses get their business started in Alexandria without having to sign a years-long lease.

Kirkpatrick moved back to the Alexandria area with husband, daughter and dog from New York City, where she attended New York University and worked for several years in business development.

She’s been working on the bookstore concept for more than a year. Kirkpatrick said she’s gotten endless support from the local small business community and her personal network.

Her terrier mix, Scout, will be a fixture at the pet-friendly store.

“I don’t think I could do this in any other place,” she said. “It’s a hometown thing.”

This article originally ran in Alexandria Living Magazine, a regional magazine covering the businesses, events and issues affecting the dynamic and growing Alexandria area.

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