Have you seen Deborah Bodin Cohen’s trolley, The Story House-Bookstore on Wheels, around Rockville or in the Memorial Day parade?
“A lot of people are really curious,” noted Cohen.
Other cities with milder weather have mobile boutiques for items such as women’s clothing, shoes, and jewelry, but you don’t find them in the DC area. That’s why The Story House stands out as a mobile bookstore and trend setter.
Cohen originally tried to find a storefront, but “rent was so astronomical”. The whole plan eventually evolved and the book trolley was the end result.
Since the first book mobile was actually in Hagerstown, Cohen points out that she’s continuing a Maryland tradition.
The trolley also has a strong Maryland connection because it was first driven in 1995 on the Eastern shore before being used in New York and then Mississippi. The trolley was last utilized for historic tours in Corinth, close to Memphis. Bringing the trolley to Rockville is a Maryland homecoming.
When asked about her biggest surprise, Cohen responded, “Learning a lot about mechanics!” She spent a considerable amount of time making sure the vehicle passed Maryland inspection, which was more stringent than Mississippi’s, where it passed before she purchased it.
The entire family helped to make the book trolley a reality. All the shelves were bought from an unfinished wood store in Rockville and Cohen’s husband and daughter spent an entire weekend staining them.
As a Rabbi, Cohen says her path to owning the trolley has a connection. She has authored eight children’s books with religious themes and has another coming out this summer.
The Story House has been busy visiting book festivals and schools. Twelve to fifteen kids can fit in the trolley at one time to peruse and shop.
What’s wonderful is that she can change the selection depending on the age or interest of each festival. The shelves can be filled for pre-schoolers all the way up to adults. For instance, one school wanted books on diversity, so the selection was customized with a collection from different countries.
The schedule has been very busy throughout the spring and is packed until mid-June when school ends. She’s looking for places to visit such as Farmer’s Markets and other events. She welcomes any creative ideas on how to utilize The Story House.