‘You don’t have to be a big reader to fall in love with a piece of literature’

Loretta’s Bookstore & Storytelling opens in downtown Cullman

“Come in & take a look. Fall in love with a book.” (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Last week, Cullman welcomed a new used bookstore, when Loretta’s Bookstore & Storytelling quietly opened its doors. Located at 320 First Ave. SE, the store, which can best be described as comfortable and inviting, is owned by Hannah and Luke Elliott.

Hannah Elliott said she didn’t plan to open a bookstore right now.

“I wanted to open a bookstore later on in life,” she said. “It was kind of on the back burner as a retirement plan, but I just kind of got a wild hair and went with it now. It’s just something, like I said, that I’ve always wanted to do.”

The business opened Aug. 23, 2019.

“It was a crazy process,” she said. “Well really, like I said, it was just a wild hair, and I’m at an age where I thought it would be fun for my kids to grow into as well as my husband and I and it’s something that we looked at realistically that if it doesn’t work, well we tried something that we knew we would love and fall in love with, and it’s just an adventure, really.”

When asked, “Why Cullman?” Elliott shared, “For one, we like to shop just as locally as we can. We frequent the farmers’ market and Berkeley Bob’s and Karma’s (Coffee House), and as far as downtown Cullman, we love what it has to offer; it just feels like home. I have a lot of people in my family that participate in the craft shows and it’s just great being part of a community like that. I have a lot of friends that live in bigger cities and they love the small-town feel- it’s just something we appreciate.”

Elliott has plans for book clubs in the future.

“We’re still getting to that point. This past week has just been trial and error, to see what’s working for us and what’s not working, and really so far our only criticism has been it does still feel empty, and of course it will because we are still filling up our bookshelves, but apart from the storytelling, what people have asked, both women and men, have asked, is will he have a spot or anything available for book clubs, and we do!”

She smiled, “There’s a space back here that you’ll see from this last bookshelf to the wall where it’s empty. We bought a couple of tables to push together back there so that if anybody wants to get together and discuss a book, and we have multiple copies of certain novels that I think would be great discussion pieces, they can absolutely use that spot back there.”

Storytelling times will (tentatively) be the first and third Friday of each month. For scheduling and more information on that, visit www.facebook.com/lorettasbookstore/.

“You don’t have to be a big reader to fall in love with a piece of literature,” said Elliot. “Really what we’re aiming for is to help encourage people to read. It’s really just promoting reading.”

Loretta’s Bookstore & Storytelling is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Oh, and where does the name Loretta come from?

According to Elliott, it’s a nickname her husband Luke gave her:  “It just stuck,” she laughed.

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Loretta’s Bookstore & Storytelling is located at 320 First Ave. SE in Cullman. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

Loretta’s Bookstore & Storytelling has many works to offer to the Cullman community. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

Maggie Darnell