When Montclair, New Jersey resident Richard Fulco visited Nyack, New York for a day trip with his girlfriend in January 2023, he did not expect to leave with a business plan for Big Red Books in mind. The pair were strolling around Nyack when Fulco saw a “For Rent” sign outside a vacant store on Main Street (formerly home to the Nyack Rock Shop, now one block down).
The then-high school English teacher had worked in an independent bookstore 20 years prior and had long considered starting a shop of his own, even going so far as to attend a Florida “Bookshop Bootcamp” in August of 2021. Finding this space felt like the sign to finally make his dream a reality.
“I turned to my partner Nan and said, ‘That’s my spot,’” Fulco recalled. He’d even decided the store’s name already: Big Red Books, after a special couch in Fulco’s family home.
“I have a big red couch in our house. We always say, ‘I’ll meet you on Big Red tonight.’ That’s where we eat, watch movies, play guitar. It’s like a character in our lives.” After signing the paperwork in April, Fulco got to work getting the location ready for customers—installing a new floor, painting walls, building bookshelves, and of course, purchasing the books themselves. He ordered a stock of over 3,400 books from a wholesaler called Ingram, thoughtfully curating a list that includes fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, young adult, local interest, poetry, history, cookbooks, self-help, local authors, and more.
By September 2, Big Red Books was ready for business, ready with a table of hors d’oeuvres and drinks to welcome incoming guests. Since then, the independent bookstore has continued to thrive. In the coming months, Fulco has even bigger plans for his shop, including author talks, writing workshops, children’s story time hours, and displaying the work of local artists.
Above all, Fulco wants Big Red Books to be a creative hub for the people of Nyack, where customers can connect through the unique kind of communal experience only independent bookstores can provide.
“With COVID and the state of this world, I think people want human connection—to touch physical things and have someone to talk to about a book recommendation,” Fulco said. “Half a dozen times a day, someone comes in and says, ‘There’s a book. It has a green cover and has the word “dead” in it?’ And I’m like, I know that book! You might get a cheaper book on Amazon. You might even get the book faster. But I think people come in for the experience.”
Big Red Books is open from 11 AM to 7 PM Wednesday through Saturday, as well as 11AM to 4PM on Sundays.