Anywhere and ‘Nowhere’ all at once

‘Nowhere Bookshop’ offers books and beverages

Laynie Clark, Managing Editor

Finding relief and escapism through books is nothing new, but having an actual place to escape is much more satisfying. Located at 5154 Broadway, Nowhere Bookshop is a place filled with comfort and community. Jenny Lawson — a New York Times bestselling author — opened Nowhere in the midst of the pandemic, but not without a little help.

Elizabeth Jordan has been managing Nowhere since day one, though she has been working with books for much longer. 

“I knew Jenny Lawson, the owner, when I was working at Book People in Austin, Texas,” Jordan said. “I worked there for about 20 years, and Jenny mentioned that she didn’t have anybody locally who was doing signed books for her followers. So, I reached out to her while working at Book People and said, ‘We’d love to offer signed books on our site.’ I got to know her through that.”

“She mentioned she had always wanted to own a bookstore,” Jordan continued. “So, I reached back out to her, and I was like, ‘Do you want to talk about this seriously?’ So, we did, and we decided to move forward.”

After spending 20 years at Book People, Jordan was ready to move her family back to San Antonio — her hometown — and settle down into the next chapter of her life. Jordan and Lawson began the process of opening up an independent bookstore — the first step included finding the perfect building.

“We looked at a lot of locations,” Jordan said. “None of them were really practical. I wanted the shop to be in the core of the city, but it was hard to find a building with good parking. Then we found this place, which has a lot of parking behind the building, and we just thought it was perfect. The downside is that it was like a wide open space, so we had to do a lot of construction to get it right.”

An essential part of opening a business is figuring out a logo and name. Jordan explained the process behind Nowhere’s logo but says the inspiration behind the name was all Lawson. 

“A lot of that comes straight from Jenny and what she had envisioned for the store,” Jordan said. “There is a quote that she came up with on our website, but basically, the concept for the name is that when you’re reading a book, you can be anywhere and nowhere all at once. The logo, on the other hand, was actually a design crowd thing,” Jordan continued. “We just said, hey does anybody want to design a logo for this? And this was the one we found and loved.”

Nowhere is known for its open-space design. Tile floors and large wooden bookshelves are dotted throughout the store. One of the walls is adorned with a mural of sorts filled with various paintings and book memorabilia. 

“As for the interior layout, the look that she [Lawson] was going for was sort of ‘English bookshop,’” Jordan explained. “Kind of rustic [and] not all the way perfect [featuring] dark wood tones. We knew we had to incorporate the tile floors because it would have been too expensive to get rid of them. It’s clean, well-lit and cozy.”

After postponing the grand opening due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nowhere was finally up-and-running by July 2021.

“We were going to open the shop in April 2020,” Jordan said. “I brought two people on full-time in March 2020, and then the world shut down and we were like, ‘What are we going to do with you guys?’ Luckily, we already had a pretty robust online business and a subscription club, so we could keep those people hired. We started doing curbside pickup in June 2021, hired more people in early July and were ready to open by the end of July 2021.”

Nestled into the back corner of the shop sits a newly-opened coffee, wine and beer bar. Jordan believed the bar would benefit the business and the customers greatly. She feels as though a book and a beverage are always better together.

“When we first designed the business, the coffee, wine and beer bar was always a part of the concept,” Jordan said. “We finally opened the shop to the public in July of 2021, but we weren’t confident enough about having just a bunch of unmasked people in the store, so we put off opening the café until vaccination rates went up until we felt more confident. We definitely feel that the café and the bookstore are a symbiotic relationship, right? Like, people want to come and work at the café for a while. That’s great. They’ll also find a book that they want.” 

Aside from coffee and books, Nowhere is a place home to many events. From author signings to political campaigns, Nowhere has an event for everybody. An event calendar can be located on their website under the “Events” tab. Just a few short weeks ago, Nowhere was supposed to host Texas’ gubernatorial governor candidate Beto O’Rourke; unfortunately, he fell ill and had to cancel. Jordan spoke about how lovely the crowd was, regardless.

“There were already 300 people here when it got canceled,” Jordan said. “It sounds like it would be a nightmare, but the crowd was so lovely and understanding. People still bought a ton of books, signed and unsigned. So, it all worked out in the end.”

Over a year after the grand opening, Nowhere Bookshop continues to thrive and is making a name for itself here in San Antonio. If you are in need of a new study spot or coffee shop, stop by during the day and check them out. They are open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, check out their website