RVA Book Bar: Uplifting & Supporting A Culture Often Silenced
Dr. Krystle Dandridge is the owner and founder of RVA Book Bar, a brand she created out of “pressure and perseverance.” A native Jersey girl, Krystle has been living in Richmond, Virginia since 2008. In addition to being a bookstore owner, Dr. Dandridge has her own therapy practice and is the founder of a nonprofit that works with youth in South Africa. She loves “pups, plants, music, traveling and reading.”
“I’m a reader, and I was tired of not finding the books I love by people who look like me.”
Dr. Krystle Dandridge is definitely who the late, great Maya Angelou speaks of when in her poem, Phenomenal Woman. Krystle is a therapist, has her own nonprofit organization, AND is the founder and owner of RVA Book Bar. She’s phenomenal. But she’s a fellow Jersey girl, so I’d expect nothing less.
Let’s get right to it.
1.) Tell us your name and a little bit about who you are.
Krystle Dandridge and I absolutely hate this question because I never know how to answer it 😩. Would I be wrong to simply copy and paste from my website 🤔
2.) Tell us about your bookstore, The Book Bar.
The Book Bar is a bookstore and wine shop centering BIPOC authors and brands. We sell books, sidelines, snacks, and wine by the bottle while offering in-store tastings.
3.) What makes The Book Bar stand out from other bookstores?
Well, it stands out from other Richmond bookstores because it’s the only Black-owned bookstore. My store also sells wines and everything in the store for sale is by a Black or person of color creative.
4.) What genres of books does your bookstore carry?
All of them! We’re a general bookstore centering Black and Brown creatives. I try to carry representation in every genre I can from contemporary fiction and romance to fantasy, YA, and nonfiction. I have poetry and memoirs as well as children’s books and cookbooks.
5.)Your store is going to have a wine bar?! Please tell us the inspiration behind this idea.
What goes best with books? WINE!!! Why not have more than just books? If there’s another area we are grossly underrepresented, it’s definitely wines!
6.) Did you always know that you wanted to own a bookstore or was there something that fueled this decision?
Nope! I wanted to be a lawyer, decided to switch to therapy after undergrad, and decided to open a bookstore a year ago. I’m still a therapist with a private practice, but I have a bookstore as well. I’m a reader, and I was tired of not finding the books I love by people who look like me.🤷🏽♀️
7.) What was the most challenging obstacle you faced opening The Book Bar?
I had no true guidance to start out. There are plenty of people to help you start a business, but very few know anything about the bookstore industry. I didn’t know where to begin.
8.) What was one thing you learned about yourself on this journey to opening your bookstore?
I have no idea 🥴. I guess I learned that I can seriously do anything I put my mind to. I’ve always been determined and stubborn, but everything I’ve done before I’ve had knowledge of through education and training. This was a complete shot in the dark and, though it didn’t turn out exactly as planned, it’s still amazing!
9.) Representation matters. Tell us what that means to you.
Exactly what it says🤷🏽♀️. Everyone deserves to see themselves represented positively in every aspect because it shows them they can. It’s easy to say you can be anything you want to be, but when you never see it, you don’t always believe it. Seeing is believing.
10.) How can authors get their books into The Book Bar?
Go on the website (rvabookbar.com). Follow the link for inquiry, READ the policy, and then submit through the form.
11.) Where can we find you/your bookstore on the Internet and social media?
1311 E Main St
Richmond, VA 23219
Audra Russell is a blogger, freelance writer, and published author. She holds two undergraduate degrees in journalism as well as a Master of Science degree in Education. She also completed the Wesleyan University online Creative Writing Specialization course series.
She is an avid reader and writer’s advocate. Her passion for promoting the works of up-and-coming authors inspired her to create her podcast, Between the Reads, as well as her website, Read It Black to Me. Her debut novel, BLOOD LAND, was published on August 29, 2020, as her fiftieth birthday gift to herself. She lives in Maryland with her husband of more than 20 years, her 3 amazing children, a 12-year-old perpetual puppy, two dueling cats, and her lone surviving chicken of 8 years who she affectionately renamed Gloria (she will survive!)