Keeping The Independent Bookstore Experience Alive


Courtesy of Molly McMahon

The doors to Scrawl Books open up to an awesome supply of books for customers to buy.

Although many local businesses closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Scrawl Books, an independent bookstore in Reston Town Center, reopened its doors so that readers could once again bask in the welcoming environment of its book-lined walls, taking the precautions necessary to keep their customers safe.

Rachel Wood, a children’s librarian, started Scrawl Books in November of 2015, with their first store at the Wiehle Metro, and recently moved to Reston.

“We really are a community based place, and so I hope people always feel welcome to come in, always feel like they can find what they’re looking for. It’s really a nice place to be,” Molly McMahon, the events and marketing manager said.

Grace Guan, one of the four high school students interning at Scrawl Books, began working there in May of 2020, not too long after Scrawl reopened. “I’ve learned a lot about how to interact with customers, and a lot about how the book selling business works, and how to talk to adults.” Guan said. “It wasn’t for a while until I actually saw people bringing their pets in. I’ve seen a couple of puppies in the store, which is really nice.” Guan added.

Supporting local businesses and independent bookstores has been a big push recently. “I think it’s really important to support indie bookstores, especially with the onslaught of Amazon taking over pretty much everything. It’s great to give back to your community through indie bookstores.  They can give you personalized recommendations, and they’re people that you actually know and can interact with and stuff, not just robots and algorithms,” Guan said.

Books line the walls from floor to ceiling at Scrawl Books. (Courtesy of Molly McMahon)

One of Scrawl’s core values is creating a diverse, welcoming and safe environment. “We support local literacy efforts and freedom of speech, and strive to reflect and contribute to the diversity of Reston, Herndon and the surrounding area,” is posted on the ‘about’ section on their Facebook page.

Scrawl offers a plethora of events as well, including “Meet the Author” talks to book clubs and game nights for teens and anyone living in the area. McMahon hosted a “Girl Power” book club during the COVID shutdown.  “We talked and read books by and about women,” McMahon said. “It was open, we had plenty of boys and welcomed everyone, so it was very diverse.”

They ask that customers wear their masks in the store to keep everyone safe, and currently offer shipping and curbside pickup through their website as an alternative to in-person shopping.

“There are lots of opportunities to talk to authors that students might be interested in that they wouldn’t find in other places. We get a lot of events with local authors, which is always a fun opportunity to experience,” Guan said.