"We believe that books are a powerful medium to connect people to one another and spread ideas that matter.”
Commonplace Books is the second location of an Oklahoma City parent bookstore that just opened its doors in Fort Worth’s WestBend development. According to the WestBend website, Commonplace aims to be a gathering spot for people who want to “lead meaningful, thoughtful lives” and “encourages discussion, growth and respite.”
Ben Nockels founded Commonplace with friends and family in Oklahoma City’s Midtown neighborhood in 2017. Nockels told D Magazine, “It’s been a beautiful couple of years where we’ve been able to gather people together in meaningful ways and create not only experiences but reimagine what the bookstore experience can be. I think that’s part of what we’re seeing with new retail. On one hand, you’ve got the experienced-based retail, but if we just stop there, I think we’re really missing what the current generation is longing for. They don’t just want experiences, they want connection. Books are a unique and powerful medium to connect people with one another.”
“Our shop was built by a group of friends who came together over a common dream to own a bookshop that was different from other booksellers',” says the Commonplace website. “It was our hope that we could build a place where people could cultivate and share a lifelong relationship with books.”
Commonplace aspires to “specialize in building a flourishing environment for the life of the mind,” and “invites patrons to imagine, linger and question their world. We believe that books are a powerful medium to connect people to one another and spread ideas that matter.”
Nockels says they felt that Commonplace had the potential to be a network of bookstores that were “uniquely contextualized for different communities.” The developers of Fort Worth’s WestBend approached them a year ago, and a partnership formed. Though Commonplace is a one-year pop-up, Nockels says they are testing the new market with a view to the long-term and possibly a Dallas location.
According to the Dallas Morning News, what makes Commonplace different from other bookstores is the aesthetic and organization. Nockels says they wanted to present an experience to discover and explore in a bright, airy space filled with plants and natural light.
The book selection is chosen to “cast a wide net across time and cultures, while catching the attention of all ages and varied interests.” Commonplace’s goal is to have something for everyone. The store is organized and curated by “how the reader might identify,” not by author or genre. The inventory is fluid, so customers can visit a changing inventory weekly. “We have sections like historian, mystic, creative, intentionalist, host,” Nockels says. “Within that we can blur some of those typical genre lines.”
In addition to a unique collection of books, the store offers goods, lectures, poetry readings, and more.