A brand-new business has arrived at the Cheshire Watch Factory Shoppes, one that hopes to give back to the community twofold — by hiring and training some of the town’s most at need residents, and selling used books donated by locals.
On Oct. 14, the Planning and Zoning Commission officially began reviewing plans for the new business — a retail training facility and used bookstore called ReRead Books & More. The store is located at 104 Elm St. and owned by Hope Reinhard.
“We are renting out two spaces on the lower level of the Watch Factory Shoppes … what we will be doing is hiring and training kids in our community that have special needs to work in a retail situation,” Reinhard explained. “We will be selling used books and some crafts that the kids will be making.”
ReRead Books & More already had employees who were ready and willing to work even before the store opened, despite the challenges COVID-19 has caused them.
“We began noticing in the summer that these young adults were losing their jobs — paying jobs — because of the pandemic,” explained Barbara Costello, parent of ReRead Books employee, Andrea. “These students want to work and are ready and willing to be contributing members of the community.”
According to the store’s website, the idea came to fruition after a group of parents, caregivers, educators and community leaders began noticing that young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities were losing their jobs en masse due to COVID-19. The pandemic has caused many employers to downsize or shut down altogether, leaving hundreds of employees unable to find appropriate work, especially those who have a disability.
“We have been collecting books from the community for a while now and the support is overwhelming,” said Reinhard. “Cheshire has such a giving heart.”
The store is funded by a group called the Connecticut Community Empowerment Foundation (CCEF), which was formed to “raise awareness within the community to advance acceptance of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to create integrated employment opportunities,” according to their website.
The store aims to carry books of all genres, including children’s books, mystery, fiction and nonfiction, history, and romance.
Planning and Zoning Chair Earl Kurtz III voiced his support for the store, noting that it seemed like “a worthy cause.” The plans were passed unanimously by the Commissioners.
The store opened its doors for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 7, and employee Andrea Costello was excited to get back to work.
“I am excited to start working again and meet the people of Cheshire,” Costello added. “I have started to meet some people as they drop off books!”
If you would like to donate books to ReRead Books & More, contact Hope Reinhard at email@example.com. To learn more about the store visit www.reread-books.org/.