The Novel Neighbor opens in Webster Groves


One of Holland Saltsman’s biggest dreams was to open a bookstore. This dream finally became a reality when she opened The Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves on Sept. 15. The store sells new books and local art, offers art classes and has a resident artist on hand.

Saltsman thinks her unique approach to a bookstore is what will set her apart from competition. The newly-renovated space is lined with local art and upcycled decor, and contains large rooms meant for business meetings, birthday parties and classes.

Photo by Lily Voss
Photo by Lily Voss

For Webster University students, the space offers a variety of outlets.

“There are great opportunities for getting to know local artists. I have an incredible selection of books and there are cozy, comfortable places to write your papers and gather together,” Saltsman said.

Saltsman’s husband, John Buck, associate dean of students and director of housing and residential life at Webster helped support his wife’s project.

“She has expressed this idea as a dream for awhile now, so when she wanted to pull the trigger I was like, ‘Okay, here we go.’ I wasn’t surprised at all,” Buck said.

But getting started posed its own challenges. The Novel Neighbor put its stake in an campaign to fund its startup. While there was a tense point during which the funding stalled for three or so days, it ultimately received full funding and was in the works all summer according to Saltsman and Buck.

“I was pretty confident from the get-go that people would want to be a part of this,” Saltsman said.

The work they put into designing The Novel Neighbor was inspired by the upcycling trend popular among artists and those mindful of the environment. The idea is to take ordinary, unused items and make them into trendy decorations and furniture.

“There are tables, lamps, lights, even stoves that are in here that have come from other people — to the point that I encourage people to come in here and see if they spot something of their own,” Saltsman said.

Beginning in October, The Novel Neighbor will host classes on how to design repurposed decorations.

Photo by Lily Voss
Photo by Lily Voss

In addition to the art classes, The Novel Neighbor has plans to develop a Zine Club for children. It will produce a publication designed and written by young people, and will contain printed art. Ellen Schaeffer, the resident artist at the bookstore, plans to coordinate the club.

“It’s her area of interest and expertise — publishing, any type of paper art, as well as screenprinting and things like that,” Saltsman said.

Saltsman said that she looks forward to providing something that was not here in Webster Groves to her neighbors and bringing the community together.

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