A story about The Story: New bookstore began a chapter in Ardmore – The Hawk

Tucked in a corner unit on Lancaster Avenue, The Story, a coffee shop and bookstore opened on Sept. 29, has brought a tranquil place to Ardmore. 
Described by founder Anna Walker-Roberts as “the place where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien could have hung out,” the vibes are immaculate. With the walls covered in book pages, biblical paintings and detailed murals, the decor adds to an ambiance that tells the story of the shop. 
With every piece of furniture and decor coming from donations and thrift stores, the inside has a “New York City Library meets speakeasy” feel, according to Walker-Roberts. It’s an environment that invites customers to get a coffee at the counter and stay awhile.
“We want it to be a place where people feel really comfortable to sit and stay,” said Ashlyn Griest, the manager at The Story. “We hope it’s a place where unity forms, where people can sit and share their stories with each other.” 
Walker-Roberts is the co-director of the Ardmore location of the Calvary Chapel of Delaware County community, a non-denominational church plant. In summer 2020, she and her husband were looking for a place for the church community to socialize and noticed an open store-front two doors down from their meeting space in a ballroom on Lancaster Avenue. With the support of the church and an empty storefront, The Story came to life.
“[The landlord] was looking for a tenant that would be giving back and who would be a good tenant for the community,” Walker-Roberts said. “It all just worked out for us to be here.”
The church raised the money to start the space and everything else was donated, including the time of the contractors. 
“I think of it as kind of a big tithe that everything in here was given,” Walker-Roberts said.
Everything about this space has a meaning. The books sold, curated by Walker-Roberts, sit in arched bookshelves on one wall of the shop. All from donations, about three-quarters of the books are faith-based and the other quarter are classics or nonfiction.
“The focus, in general, are true stories,” Walker-Roberts said. “True, good and beautiful, kind of being a focus in classical literature.”
As much as the books and the aesthetic contribute to the atmosphere, so does the coffee that is served. John Lange, who has been working with coffee for over a decade, is the barista at The Story. He curated the menu and what you can see behind the bar. The menu includes fresh coffee, espresso and a selection of pastries. 
To Lange, coffee is not just about the delicious caffeine boost, but the experience it can create. 
“I hope that [coffee] brings a quality experience that can be a part of your every day,” Lange said. “Just a place to connect and just providing an opportunity for people to do that and to relate to each other in different ways.”
While the ambiance and aesthetic of this coffee shop and bookstore set it apart already, their mission takes the shop to the next level. All proceeds from The Story go to two non-profit partners, Helping Hand Rescue Mission and Delaware County Against Human Trafficking.
“The idea behind it is that we give to nonprofits that are specifically supporting people that are in difficult chapters of their story to keep the story idea going,” Walker-Roberts said.
Since The Story’s official opening, community feedback has been incredibly positive, according to Walker-Roberts. Christie Wilhelm, a member of Calvary Chapel, has become a regular at The Story because of its atmosphere.
“It’s just one of those places where all are welcome,” Wilhem said. “It’s ‘come in, sit down and pull up a chair, sit with me’ type thing.” 
To Walker-Roberts, this business is much more than just a bookstore, and the name is more than the words on the door. 
“A story takes place over time and I think our interactions with people honor that idea of a story,” Walker-Roberts said. “By getting to be here and interact with a lot of people and have multiple conversations over multiple days, you get a bigger sense of their story… seeing all that play out I think is the heart behind it.”
 



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