Opening of a children’s bookshop in Rome


Teri Smith and her husband Richard opened Circle Time Books & More in Rome, offering books and educational toys for children aged 12 and under. The store is located at 401 North James St. (TRACI DELORE/CNYBJ)

ROME — The city of Rome just got its second new bookstore in less than a year, but the newest store, Circle Time Books & More, focuses on the city’s youngest readers.

“I think every kid should have a bedtime story,” says Teri Smith, who opened the store with her husband Richard. “I want to get parents to connect with their kids through a book.”

Her store at 401 N. James St., which celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 5, is stocked with books and a selection of toys for under-12s.

The idea for the business came from Smith’s 40 years of experience providing childcare services and the name was inspired by the county time she believes in for her young charges. “Kids love to read, but kids don’t read anymore,” says Smith, noting that she hopes to change that.

Circle Time Books & More stock numerous books that come with stuffed animals, including many by Slumberkins to give children a tactile experience while reading or having someone read them to them. According to the Slumberkins website, the snuggly items that come with the books help provide safety and comfort, aid in emotional regulation, and stimulate the imagination.

Circle Time also carries the Barefoot Books brand, which is normally only sold through home parties but is available in select stores. “I like the process they go through when selecting books,” says Smith of the company. The shop also stocks a selection of Christian books and books in Spanish.

Smith rents about 9,000 square feet for the store. She and her husband are currently the only employees, but Smith hopes her grandchildren will help. Friends and family are also available if needed, notes Smith.

It took about two months to get the premises ready for the grand opening and about $20,000, a personal investment, to start the business, she says.

“We put a lot of thought into what’s in here,” says Smith. From hand puppets to sensory dough, all toys have a purpose.

Smith believes the quality of merchandise and the personal touch Circle Time offers will help it compete with online retailers and large bookstore chains.

“If you come in here, we can take you somewhere,” she says. In addition to a personalized experience, she wants to make it an adventure for children to visit the store and choose a new book.

Smith continues to offer daycare, so store hours remain limited at this time. Circle Time Books & More is open Tuesday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m

As the store’s name suggests, Smith hopes to offer circle time there soon, either in store or on the lawn next door, weather permitting. Smith hopes one of the books the store will soon be able to offer is one she’s writing with her sister, Corri Lenaghen, about Opal the Goat.

Circle Time does not compete with the Keaton & Lloyd Bookshop which opened in Rome in October 2021. This store caters to youth and adults.


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