Black-Owned North Carolina Bookstore Launches Mobile Bookshop in School Bus


October 18, 2023

A Black-owned bookstore in North Carolina is reopening in a major new way.

The Urban Reader Bookstore, founded by Sonyah Spencer, was once located at a physical location in Charlotte’s University City neighborhood. But when Spencer found that the location had become financially untenable, she crafted a plan to transition her business from a fixed location to a mobile one.

Business owners need to adjust according to the economic times,” Spencer told WFAE. “For me, it wasn’t financially right for the amount of rent I was paying at the brick-and-mortar location.”


Spencer’s 18-month lease ended in February. And she decided that was the perfect time to explore her mobile bookstore idea.

“I was going red every month,” Spencer said, detailing that she spent around $6,000 each month to lease her physical store space. “It got to the point where the other business I do during the week, I was supplementing to keep the bookstore open.”

Spencer now pays just $60 on gas occasionally to fill up the bus and around $100 each month for parking and maintenance like an oil change.  


Her mobile bookstore includes sections dedicated to Black authors, children’s literature, Hispanic authors, and LGBTQ+ literature.

“I pray for the librarians, the school districts, and the community libraries because their road to getting a book on the shelf is harder for them than it is for me,” Spencer added, noting the issues many schools are facing over book bans across the nation.

She added that the mobile bookstore has greatly expanded the reach of her business.


I get it. If I lived in Pineville, where I used to live, would I drive all the way to the university to go to a bookstore? No, I wouldn’t,” Spencer said. “So, I said, you know what, ‘let me go to the people, so the people don’t have to go to me.’”

To learn more about The Urban Reader Bookstore, visit its website here

Photo by The Urban Reader Bookstore


4.5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join the BOTWC newsletter for the latest in news & culture!

By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup
Skip to content