At noon on Saturday the shelves and racks at The Writer’s Block were filled with about 18,000 books.
A couple of hours later, the stacks were noticeably thinner.
The gaps in each row could be traced to the line, snaking down the store’s center aisle, where nearly 250 guests juggled paperback novels, hardcover coffee table books, compact volumes of poetry and last-minute additions of puzzles, board games and adoptable plush birds.
It was the first time anyone had shopped at The Writer’s Block since the original location on Fremont Street closed in September.
Saturday’s grand opening marked the first look at the store’s new location at 519 S. Sixth St. It also marked the launch of The Lucy, a new mixed-use campus committed to fostering a community of creativity by Beverly Rogers, co-founder of the nonprofit Rogers Foundation.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rogers addressed the crowd, explaining how the mixed-use project is the manifestation of a dream to bring together literary, visual and performative artists in one space.
Rogers sees The Lucy, named after her dog and the Latin word for light, as a symbol that will signify light for those who appreciate art.
“The Lucy is now a movement,” she said. “It will become a prototype for what ‘mixed-use- means in Las Vegas.”
As a partial co-owner in The Writer’s Block, opening an expanded store had long been an ambition, she said.
“We dreamed together, we imagined together, we kissed frogs together,” Rogers said to the founders Drew Cohen and Scott Seeley. “Call it fate, call it Serendipity. Call it The Writer’s Block at The Lucy.”
Inside the store, 10-year-old Jordynn Olivia Thomas scanned a row of graphic novels for young readers before selecting one from the “Babysitter’s Club” series.
“I’ve read this, this and this,” she said, prodding at the shelf of chapter books. “But not this one.”
Thomas and her mother, Fabiola Chavez-Jimenez, had regularly visited The Writer’s Block’s previous location, where Thomas had participated in a four-week writing workshop.
“We wrote a book about superheroes,” said Thomas. “I wrote a chapter about Prisma. She can control the sun and crystals. So she can make rainbows.”
The Writer’s Block is planning to restart children’s programming in late May. Thomas plans to be there, flexing her authorial muscles.
Harrison White loaded up on 10 fantasy and poetry books, including the hefty “The Books of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin and got in line shortly after the store opened. “I haven’t really bought any books since they closed,” he said. “I went to the old location a lot. I’ll be in here regularly.”
The new location retains the look of an artificial bird sanctuary. The check-out counter is housed inside an oversized birdcage. Plush parrots, pheasants and penguins hang from the fruit trees and rafters, inviting young readers to adopt them. And chandeliers shaped like bird nests illuminate the small cafe at the store’s entrance.
The rows of books are decorated with other thematic items for sales. Spooky board games such as “Betrayal at House on the Hill” are lined up on top of the horror section’s bookshelves. The children’s books corner is decorated with technicolor fluttering kites and ramen-shaped puzzles can be found near the cookbooks.
“Working with Beverly Rogers meant working with someone with a shared vision,” Cohen said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. So many customers and friends have helped us shelve books and get ready. We believe in this community.”
While anchored by The Writer’s Block, The Lucy also encompasses a dozen loft-style residences, three of which are allotted for artists and writers who are working to make lasting impacts on the Las Vegas Valley.
They will be reserved for artists in residence and fellows of UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute.
A large outdoor venue will be home to events such as The Believer Festival later this month. And a smaller event space will host live music nights, book clubs and readings.
“In a town known for neon,” said Rogers, “what better symbol for light is there than Lucy!”