More Than Words is now much, much more. The nonprofit bookstore opened its expanded South End spot this month, moving from its former second-floor home on East Berkeley Street to a prime street-level location that previously housed Medieval Manor. The new space will help the company continue its mission of hiring youth from troubled backgrounds, who—in addition to cataloguing every gently used book that’s donated—have helped shape the storefront by taking on tasks like refurbishing much of the furniture.
“I have had a lot of experience seeing systems failing,” says founder and CEO Jodi Rosenbaum, whose background is in child welfare, juvenile justice and education. “There’s so much focus on young people’s gaps and problems, but not enough attention on getting them opportunities to move their own lives forward.”
What originally began as an online operation run by Rosenbaum and a small group of teenagers out of a 150-square-foot space in Watertown is now a 10,000-square-foot storefront. In addition to carrying 50,000 books, the store will sell a range of products—candles, bracelets and cookie mixes-—made by local nonprofits to help raise awareness on social enterprise. It will also feature a rentable event room, complete with floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains, that doubles as a sunlit reading room for patrons during the day. Says Rosenbaum: “Especially in this moment in time where there’s a lot of cynicism in the world, I think that there’s something so beautifully hopeful about what we’re doing here.”