Amidst the charming streets of Carrollton, Georgia, a vibrant tapestry of local businesses contributes to the city’s distinctive character. Three years after the pandemic, Josh Niesse, Co-owner of Underground Books, shares insights into the bookstore’s history, distinctive offers and strong ties to the city.
The journey of Underground Books began with a shared passion for literature. Co-owners Josh Niesse and Megan Bell turned their dream into a reality, driven by a desire to create a haven for book enthusiasts.
“I had been selling used, vintage, out of print books online as a hobby for several years,” said Niesse. “Turning my hobby into a small business was part of a dream to make a living doing work that I loved and could feel good about.”
Both co-owners welcomed Carrollton’s warm embrace of arts and culture that made the location of Underground Books a natural fit.
“It’s a great town to have an eccentric little bookstore,” said Niesse. “It’s small enough to have a great sense of community, but big enough to allow you to meet lots of new and interesting people all the time.”
Underground Books rarely hosts any special events, so in order to engage with its target audience, the bookstore holds an annual sale.
“We do have our big annual $1 book sale coming up soon, which will be Sept. 15-17 at Printer’s Ale Brewery,” said Niesse. “All the books are $1 each or you can fill a box that we provide for $10.”
With the rise of online reading, Underground Books faces the threat that all local bookstores face with an increasingly digital landscape.
“A much bigger threat to the local bookstore is people buying their physical books online from Amazon instead of from local bookstores,” said Niesse. “That is a problem that is very much ongoing, and a major challenge to us and our bookselling peers.”
However, Niesse remains resilient and hopeful that this wouldn’t create a big hindrance to their business. The bookstore even uses social media as a medium to attract customers. Their success on social media allows the business owners to tell their story, which resonates with people.
“With over 60,000 followers on TikTok, we’ve had a number of videos go viral and get hundreds of thousands or over a million views,” said Niesse. “These TikTok videos have driven visitors from out of town to visit Underground Books in droves.”
The goals of its owners, the vivacity of the neighborhood and the ongoing love of pageturners makes Underground Books a staple in the community.