Carrie Rengers

Blue Baboon Books pop-up store could become permanent

Sara Ornelas is keeping her mobile Blue Baboon Books and starting a store, too, at NewMarket Square.
Sara Ornelas is keeping her mobile Blue Baboon Books and starting a store, too, at NewMarket Square. File photo

UPDATED – It’s not unusual to hear business owners say they’re opening just in time for Christmas shopping or just in time for Halloween costumes.

But just in time for Harry Potter’s birthday?

That’s the plan, says Blue Baboon Books owner Sara Ornelas.

For the past year, Ornelas has had the mobile children’s and young adult bookstore that she takes to schools and food truck rallies.

Now, she’s opening a pop-up store that may become a permanent one at NewMarket Square, and it’ll be in time for Harry Potter’s birthday on July 31.

Ornelas is, not surprisingly, a big fan of the young wizard.

It’s been the former Gannett copy editor’s longtime dream to have a bookstore.

“I had initially, like for 12 years, wanted to open a bricks-and-mortar children’s bookstore,” Ornelas says.

She says rent was too much in high-traffic areas.

“One of my friends suggested I try to go mobile,” Ornelas says. “Actually, I’m really glad I did start smaller, because I learned a lot about marketing … and I made a lot of contacts. It’s better to start smaller.”

Had she started bigger, she says, “The mistakes would have been more expensive.”

Then the opportunity came up for a pop-up store in the 1,700 square feet where Mathnasium used to be.

“While it is still a pop-up store, my husband and I … are approaching it like it’s going to be a permanent location, because we want it to work,” Ornelas says.

“It’s really a spectacular location. It’s right along Maize Road.”

Ornelas is keeping the truck as well.

“That’s more of an outreach to schools,” she says. “That’s really important to me to stay connected to the schools and help them out when I can.”

The store will branch out a bit more than the truck by carrying some gift and stationery items related to books along with some adult titles.

The main focus will still be on children and young adults.

“They have these spongy little brains,” Ornelas says.

Even if it’s a picture book, she says, there’s value in that for children.

“They just build so much confidence around reading, and they want to read more,” she says. “We really just want to latch on to that sponginess and their enthusiasm.”

The store will open on July 28, and there will be Harry Potter-related games and crafts for the opening weekend in advance of his birthday.

So who is the baboon of Blue Baboon Books?

Ornelas says he’s no more real than Harry Potter.

“We just like the alliteration.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers