This Tiny Bookstore is a Hidden Haven for Book Lovers

Just 270 square feet of literature tucked away in the North Hills.

 

PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD

The name of the business is The Tiny Bookstore — but The Secret Bookstore might work just as well.

You could pass by the North Hills shopping center Pines Plaza every day without noticing that one of Pittsburgh’s most remarkable places to pick up a new read is hidden within. The Tiny Bookstore, with about 270 square feet of retail space, is tucked into a hallway in the center of the plaza. It’s an oasis of books and collectibles housed in a spot no bigger than a mid-sized office.

In fact, it’s an office, too. Co-owners Lea and Bill Bickerton are both attorneys; when they relocated to the North Hills, they were looking for a small space to use as a legal office. “It’s always been my dream to have a bookstore,” Lea says. “The idea just kind of took off from the space.” Both meet clients there, but also maintain regular hours for The Tiny Bookstore (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 7 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays).

In late 2018, they began stocking the space with new and used books — many of the latter coming from their personal collection — and celebrated a grand opening in January. Despite the store’s lilliputian footprint, the offerings are varied, including a selection of new releases, cookbooks and a spotlight on independently published authors.

There are also books for young readers, ranging from infant to young adult. Lea says that she tries to focus their youth selection on books that will get kids into reading, often by selecting books with pop-culture tie-ins.

The Tiny Bookstore also hosts a number of family events, including storytime sessions for various ages. “Kinetic Storytime is our crown jewel,” Lea says; those sessions are designed for kids who may have special needs or are more energetic. “It’s an opportunity for people to come in and do a storytime, but there isn’t really an expectation that kids will sit still.”

For grown-up readers, The Tiny Bookstore hosts a Books and Brews series, pairing a book discussion with thematically tied beers; they try to incorporate local craft offerings whenever possible.

The titular tininess provides a cap on the number of books available. Lea sees that as a benefit, not a drawback; the store’s mission is to offer quality, not quantity. “It’s a gift to have this limited space,” she says. “I prefer something a little bit smaller — and to be able to have the opportunity to pick [a book] that’s going to fit.”

Categories: Scoop, Things To Do