At first glance, the outside of Nightbird Books hasn’t changed much since moving to its location on Dickson Street about six years ago.
Take a closer look, and some significant differences begin to appear. The acronym “BHK” is missing from the turquoise sign in front of “Cafe,” and the breezeway that sits behind the bookstore, once underutilized, now exudes soft light onto the streets at dark during the weekly shows, poetry readings, art exhibitions and even a Wednesday night farmers market. The mobile food vendor Nomad’s Natural Plate is seen in the parking lot daily serving gyros and lentil soup.
When BHK Cafe left the location early in 2012 to pursue their own venture on the Fayetteville square, what changed, really, said event promoter and Nightbird employee, Roger Barrett, is the refocus to the classic bookstore feel, to include the meeting of literary groups from around NWA, with a little bit of variety in the form of events and shows.
But there’s one thing every bookstore needs, Barrett said.
“The owner knew we wanted to focus on being a bookstore, but to keep people in the bookstore we needed to serve coffee,” he said.
To do that, they brought in one of NWA’s best local roasters — Anonymous Coffee Roasters, LLC. Anonymous supplies coffee to some of the most established and thriving coffee shops and businesses in town such as Onyx Coffee Lab in Springdale, the Chancellor Hotel and Theo’s.
“He came in and totally set up our coffee shop area and trained everyone,” Barrett said.
But it wasn’t just the coffee and the more relaxing environment Barrett hoped would bring people in and keep them coming back. He began promoting the all-ages shows that take place in their breezeway, something he had done before for venues such as the Lightbulb Club in Fayetteville.
“I always had the idea to do shows in the breezeway area, which was completely unused when I started working there, but there was always a conflict having two businesses with different business models. They wanted a fine dining experience, and we were looking for something else …” Barrett said.
So far, he said the shows have been the best part. With few all-ages shows offered in the area, they’ve been well-received.
“You have to know someone to really be involved with the all-ages scene. Unless you know someone who’s in a band, you’d probably feel uncomfortable going, but going to a bookstore, you don’t have to feel intimidated,” Barrett said.
The goal is to work with independent promoters to have events they think are cool, and they hope the crowds do, too. They’re also holding poetry readings, meetings for organizations such as the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective, Burning Chair Readings, author signings and speaking events, all while keeping in mind their main focus — being a bookstore that serves great coffee.
Ugly X-mas Sweater Party, Music by Messy Sparkles, Friday, 7 p.m.
Local Author Extravaganza, Saturday and Dec. 22, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Cody Davis Art Show, Music by Beth Stockdale, Dec. 21, 5 p.m.
Live Music: Teenagers, Real Live Tigers, Electrician, Dec. 22, 5 p.m.
Wednesday nights the Green Fork farmers market is held from 4 to 7 p.m. and will be going year round. Meats and vegetables can be preordered and picked up at the market.