Duende District, a bookstore for and by people of color, pops up in West Hyattsville
BY KRISSI HUMBARD — A new bookstore is popping up in West Hyattsville.
Duende District, a mobile bookstore that focuses on works by authors and illustrators of color, will pop up in a vacant storefront in Queens Chapel Town Center Friday morning.
Owner Angela Maria Spring, formerly of Politics and Prose, started Duende District in February, with a mission to bring a highly inclusive and pleasurable general bookstore experience to Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas, serving a multicultural community with an equally multicultural ownership and staff.
Coming off a successful pop-up in Brookland, Spring says she is excited about her next stop.
“Everyone I’ve worked with in Hyattsville has been amazing and excited to bring this bookstore and its mission of uplifting voices of color to the community,” Spring said. “This is the biggest endeavor we’ve done as a store yet but it’s also everything I’ve wanted to do since I left Politics & Prose to start the store.”
Local resident and poet Jose Ballesteros connected Spring with Mayor Candace Hollingsworth in May about the possibility of a pop-up in Hyattsville. “He was very supportive and encouraging about Duende District’s mission and pitched the idea of Duende in Hyattsville because it has a strong Hispanic community and was also [at the time] becoming a sanctuary city,” Spring said.
Hollingsworth said she knew there were some vacant storefronts at Queens Chapel Town Center and approached the owners, Harvey Maisel and Michael Hollins. “The property owners enthusiastically agreed and it went from there,” Hollingsworth said. She has worked with Director of Community Services & Public Information Officer Jake Rollow to connect Spring with local business owners, community groups and organizations to help design programs to be held in the space.
“I think hosting the pop-up at Queens Chapel Town Center allows us to create a culturally rich space for the community while also, hopefully, demonstrating that this type of business ‘works’ and is welcome at the shopping center,” Hollingsworth said. “I would love to see Duende with a more permanent presence in Hyattsville. Beyond that, though, I’m hopeful that this encourages an addition to the retail mix that’s currently at [Queens Chapel Town Center].”
The bookstore will have a selection of general, new trade books, including fiction, poetry, memoir and essay, graphic novels and children’s books — all by authors and illustrators of color. The Hyattsville location will also have titles in Spanish, something Duende District is offering for the first time.
“I am beyond thrilled to have Duende District in the City of Hyattsville — even if only for a short while. Duende District’s presence in Hyattsville is about more than just books; it will provide a safe, vibrant, and culturally rich space for all to fully experience community,” Hollingsworth said in a press release.
The pop-up will also be a part of the city’s Hispanic Heritage month celebration. Duende District will hold its opening reception and Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta on Friday from 5-7 p.m., with live music and food from local restaurants, and a feature with the Callaloo book and puppet show for their new Spanish/English bilingual activity book.
“Centering it around Hispanic Heritage Month made sense but it’s important to stress that our mission is to include all voices of color and to welcome everyone through our doors for an inclusive, warm, lovely bookstore experience,” Spring said.
The Duende @ Hyattsville pop-up will also host an artist in residence. Christopher John Hoppe, a Maryland artist and poet, will create a special Duende District “Todas Las Voces” painting on the storefront window and show four of his pieces. Hoppe will also lead a children’s art mural activity at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23.
Additional events include a reading with Zozobra Publishing,; a Spanish Hot Topic Café organized by Link Education, a language school for adults and children in the Gateway Arts District; and a bookstore tour and book presentation for immigrant students from the Mi Refugio program at Northwestern High School.
Part of the store will be dedicated to event space, with the rest set up with decorations and display pieces from local Hyattsville businesses, including Green Owl Designs, Tanglewood Works and Community Forklift.
“As a mobile pop-up, our goal is to reach as many communities of color as we can, while also seeing where we might find a home for the bricks and mortar bookstore,” Spring said. “Hyattsville is already a strong contender and I’m so excited to be there for the rest of the month!”
Duende District will be popping up at 5412 Queens Chapel Road from Sept. 21-30. Hours will be Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It will be closed on Mondays.