The Writer’s Block Bookstore & Café A women-led space for the community
by isabelle mercado
Managed by four multifaceted women with experience in the arts, The Writer’s Block Bookstore & Café is a space designed for the community, where bonds of friendship and love are strengthened through good food, drink, music, and art.
“I arranged a meeting in my living room as a test. I wanted a space that incorporated multiple creative and community-oriented ideas that included books, music, and art accompanied by good coffee and food. The first meeting gave me the input of several ideas; people were so resourceful that they would later become partners,” says Vered Mares, one of the owners.
The Writer’s Block Bookstore & Café, located in the heart of Spenard, was born in 2015 in a space that was initially an adults-only store. Since then, it has grown into a warm and welcoming place, with a casual atmosphere and an eclectic style that invites you to chat and interact with friends while in there.
It stands out from other bookstores or cafes because of the constant promotion of the arts. The Block features events on reading, singing, community conversations, stand-up comedy, and more. All under a relaxed atmosphere.
To achieve this, the owners have worked hard. Dawnell Smith, who, familiar with literature and journalism, is in charge of communications. She defines that “The Writer’s Block is about sharing the wisdom of age and the flavors of the world. It’s about immersing yourself in the fantastic and delving into the marrow. It is about entering the unknown, feeling uncomfortable, and meeting people you feel you have known all your life. It is where the passion for travel finds its home.”
Vered Mares, who gave birth to the idea of creating The Writer’s Block, grew up surrounded by literature thanks to her parents. Although she worked as a commercial pilot, she resumed her literary passion by settling in Alaska, where she has worked as a designer and editor. “TheWriter’s Block Bookstore & Café is the culmination of all my experiences. It’s the place to establish my literary roots and be a part of my growing and changing community,” she says.
For her part, Teeka Ballas is their events coordinator. Thanks to her music studies in Los Ángeles and her work as a vocalist, announcer, and director of youth musical theater, the programming at The Writer’s Block has been very successful.
The fourth partner is Kathy McCue, who has dedicated herself to medicine and says, “I think people thrive where there is a sense of connection. I hope The Writer’s Block creates a space for this connection to grow.” Unfortunately, Kathy had to move from Alaska due to her career, so The Writer’s Block is currently looking for a new business partner.
All partners also care about promoting local products, as this helps strengthen and improve their community; they serve local draft beer, prepare all their food in-house, and bake their own bread and pastries. This, in turn, generates more jobs and helps the environment, as they conserve energy and resources in less fuel for transport, and less packaging.
The Writer’s Block Bookstore & Café was no exception to the blow the economy suffered from the pandemic, but thanks to the efforts of its owners, it has survived. “We had a combination of good luck, community support, and good timing regarding our finances. I imagine there will continue to be ups and downs as things adjust to the new reality. So far, things are fine, but I don’t think anyone can own a restaurant or bookstore without a lot of optimism sprinkled with a healthy respect for reality and the most important issues facing our community,” said Mares. For more information about events at The Writer’s Block, visit their website: www.writersblockak.com.
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE NEWS, LLC. Sol de Medianoche is a monthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska