Thursday, September 29 2022

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – Believe it or not, Christmas Day is a week away But that will only be the start of a week-long celebration of Kwanzaa gifts.

For a Gulfport bookstore, Kwanzaa is a strong selling point, but the inspiration of the holidays goes far beyond profit.

WOW Book and Toy Store in Gulfport may be small, but owner Tonisha Kimble hopes its impact will be huge.

“We’re only 100 square feet, but we’re packing it,” she said with a smile.

In fact, the shelves are full of fiction and non-fiction books and toys, all designed to promote diversity, especially among young readers.

She started a website in 2017 and created this store in July. Kimble wanted the physical space to help market online sales and make it all more personal.

“I was really surprised considering that we don’t have foot traffic in this area,” she said. “People found us and came out. Our website is growing. Our social media is growing. So he was very well received.

The Christmas season and Kwanzaa create good selling points for this time of year.

“It’s been good,” Kimble said. “I think this time around people are more culturally aware and want different kinds of material for their kids.”

For her, Kwanzaa, which runs from December 26 to January 1, is an extension of the Christmas holidays.

“It’s more of an African-American, African-inspired celebration around the holidays,” she said. “It’s a response to Christmas consumerism. It’s really about celebrating community, celebrating family, being together.

And she wants her little corner of the world to help make that happen all year round by giving young people the chance to see themselves in the stories they read.

“I just want our children to know that there are people who love them, who support them,” she said. “There are people who write stories that speak to you. Whatever interests you, just know that you can do it.

The store, located at 1520 29th Street, Suite 3 in Gulfport, is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information see the store’s website. The email is [email protected]

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