Stoneweaver Books Opens On Route 1 In The Town Center

By Susan Morse

Herald Sunday, Sunday, July 24, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of Herald Sunday and Seacoast Online.]

Rob Pondelli trying out the new easy chairs.

HAMPTON -- Rob Pondelli, 25, has brought a bookstore to downtown Hampton, a move he hopes will be supported by residents looking to shop locally.

"People who've come in said they've wanted a bookstore for years," he said. "It gave me confidence this is going to work."

Pondelli opened Stoneweaver Books on Route 1 next to Marelli's Market on Monday. It's in a space formerly occupied by Seacoast Coin & Jewelry, now located farther north on Route 1.

Pondelli knows he has taken a risk in opening the independent bookstore. Family supported him with business loans.

"I figured, I'm still 25, I still have plenty of years to work off the debt," he said. "I'd rather (do this now) than when I'm retired and have used my life savings. I have no life savings. If it fails, at least I tried it. If it bombs, OK, at least I tried it."

The store has two large green easy chairs in the front window, a welcoming refuge from the week's heat, a place to browse, relax and watch the traffic on Route 1. The latest Harry Potter book beckons from the display window.

Pondelli worked with a wholesaler to stock his initial 2,300 titles, and specializes in books of regional interest. He's also open to selling local, self-published books.

His experience has been a year working for a Barnes & Noble in Massachusetts.

"I just always loved working with books," he said. "I've wanted to open a bookstore since I was 17."

Pondelli conducted no marketing surveys before opening the doors. He decided on Hampton because it has no bookstore, and because he lives here, he said.

Like many who settled in town, Pondelli came to the beach in summer and decided to make Hampton his home.

He also considered another site for his bookstore - Amesbury, Mass. Hampton was his first choice.

"I think it's a good location, being on Route 1 and in the center," Pondelli said, pointing out the busy Caffe Fresco across the street and the adjacent lunch shop Just Gen's as a complementary business.

Pondelli attended Tewksbury High School in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a degree in anthropology.

His favorite book is Somerset Maugham's "The Razor's Edge," which is in stock.

He'll be having book-signings and events to get customers into the store. There's already a sign-up sheet for a book club.

Pondelli has invested in his downtown community, naming his business after the colorful cut gem stones sold by friends of his parents in their own shop.