This Afro-Latina Is Raising Funds To Open The Bronx's Only Bookstore

"The Bronx is no longer burning, except with a desire to read.”

Noëlle Santos wants the Bronx to get lit, with literature.

The afro-boricua launched a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo last month in hopes of opening The Lit. Bar in her borough. The Bronx was left with no bookstores after the Barnes & Nobles at the Bay Plaza Shopping Center recently closed.

Santos envisions her business as both a bookstore and a wine bar, “a social hub for people to come together and talk about social issues,” she told PIX11 News. “That’s something amazon cannot provide.”

The smile you get when you work through the fear, follow your dreams, and your community catches you. 🙏 #thebronxreads

A photo posted by 🍷THE LIT. BAR 📚 (@thelitbar) on

The way Santos sees it, The Lit. Bar is an opportunity to change perceptions about her community.

“Lit like literature, Lit like drunk. Lit with passion to kill stigmas... and prove, once again, that the Bronx keeps creating it,” Santos says in one part of her campaign video, above. “And we are worthy, that we are more than just sneaker stores and we support the arts, so I stand here today and ask you to open your hearts and help us show the world what many fail to see: that the Bronx is no longer burning, except with a desire to read.”

And the 30-year-old Human Resources professional and blogger says her bookstore will reflect the diversity of her neighborhood.

“When you come into a neighborhood like the South Bronx, where most of our population is Hispanic and African-American, you need your stores, your community centers and your organizations to reflect the people that actually live there,” she told The New York Times.

Santos won second place in the New York Public LIbrary’s New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition last year, which came with a prize of $7,500.

The boricua bookworm has already raised over $39,000 via Indiegogo, and she’s hoping to meet her $100,000 goal in the month that’s left of the campaign. The entrepreneur got a big boost after filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted about The Lit. Bar on Feb. 3. Santos told he gave her campaign $5,000.

The Lit. Bar will be a lot more than bookstore as far as Santos is concerned, she feels the space will serve a higher purpose.

“When you think about the South Bronx you don’t usually think about wine and intellectuals reading,” Santos told PIX11 News. “It’s really a movement to break those Bronx stereotypes.”

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