"You are going to see books that reflect your daily life. Books in Spanish, books in Spanglish and books on Mexican and Hispanic role models, and books of our region like our city, our state or from Mexico, ones that you are proud of and feel an attachment to it."
The Phoenix Bookstore hosted its grand opening December 28 at 1602 Victoria St. in downtown Laredo. The Laredo Morning Times reported that co-owners Margarita Govea and Jose Cantu want "to contribute to the fabric of the city's culture" by offering the community "a unique bookstore. They don't want to be like Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. That's why Govea and Cantu decided to highlight books that have ties to Laredo culture, Hispanic culture, and even Spanglish culture."
"This is a bookstore where you are going to find books promoting our culture, like our Latinx culture," Govea said. "When you walk through the door, this is what you are going to see. You are going to see books that reflect your daily life. Books in Spanish, books in Spanglish and books on Mexican and Hispanic role models, and books of our region like our city, our state or from Mexico, ones that you are proud of and feel an attachment to it."
Another incentive for the co-owners was their desire to help downtown continue to prosper. The Morning Times noted that before Govea and Cantu "bought the location, it was a demolition wanting to happen. Originally, one could walk in, look up at the ceiling and see the sky. Since taking over the building, they have completely renovated it. Govea and Cantu have added chandeliers and have redone the exposed brick walls. They have tried to create a friendly ambiance within a building that has been standing since 1885."
Although officially open, the Phoenix Bookstore is still evolving. The second floor will be opened in February, featuring the work of local artists. Govea and Cantu are also taking applications for food truck vendors to join their team.
"We want to work with local artists," Govea said. "We want to use our walls within the bookstore to exhibit their art, have art exhibitions and art classes. The artists want to be downtown."
They ultimately want the bookstore to become a place where Laredo's culture can thrive. "We are friendly and are community activists," Govea noted. "I want this to be a community place. We want them here and having a good time."