If you can find your way out of the maze of Mickey Mouse headbands and Harry Potter wands, push past the souvenir cups of lemonade, and step over the paper slips greasy from turkey legs and churros, you might be lucky enough to find yourself in Winter Park, a peaceful suburb of Orlando, FL. If you are even luckier, you will find yourself downtown, at the Writer’s Block Bookstore. Here, tourists and locals coexist beyond the reach of Disney’s princess-perfect glitz.
Owner Lauren Zimmerman, a 40-year resident of Winter Park, opened Writer’s Block in 2014, a time when many brick-and-mortars closed or were about to be. What started as a retirement project soon grew into a shop too large for its own space. “At any point I can stop,” Lauren frequently said to herself as Writer’s Block was finding its footing.
But the bookstore has never slowed down. With events including educator nights, book clubs, and author readings — like David Sedaris last March, and Mary Alice Monroe this upcoming May — the store is all about bringing people together. “It means a lot to be partnering with people you want to work with,” Lauren said. Her enthusiasm shows in the extensive programming hosted by Writer’s Block. Whether its Quantum Leap — the sustainability-focused winery that makes its wines in-house — or the indie writers she emails when she can’t wait to showcase their books, Lauren’s networking has turned the store into a place book lovers want to be.
In September, to better accommodate everyone the store brings in, Writer’s Block Bookstore will move to a new, larger location on Park Avenue in Winter Park. With her first degree in architecture, Lauren hopes to create a modern, museum-like atmosphere in the new space. Like any good museum, it will encourage patrons to linger. Writer’s Block is set to host an expanded events calendar, as well as a new coffee and wine bar. And, while the space and book selection might be new, the relationships behind them are anything but.
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