Small Business Highlight: DeMoir Books and Things
Updated: Aug 17, 2022
DeMoir Books and Things is a quaint bookstore located right off of Summer Avenue on North White Station Road in Memphis. Jeremee DeMoir opened DeMoir Books and Things in 2021 after he decided to take a break from teaching. His original plan was to open a bookstore after he retired from being an educator, but the pandemic moved up his plans “In the middle of the pandemic, I just decided to pause class one day and ask the kids ‘What do you aspire for in life, what are your dreams, what do you want to be?’. As the kids started to share their dreams and their hopes, one of the kids was like, ‘What about you Mr. D?’” Initially, he told them he wanted to teach until retirement age and then he would open a bookstore. But then they asked him ‘Why not now?’, which got him thinking. And he found himself saying, ‘Yeah, why not now?’ and that’s the beginning of DeMoir Books and Things. Being an educator to his core, he knew that he wanted to make DeMoir Books a safe haven for anybody to be able to read. For Jeremee, literacy is his greatest passion and he wants to be able to put books in the hands of every child who wants one, regardless of if they can afford them.
While planning to open the bookstore, he did research and found there wasn’t a brick- and- mortar Black-owned bookstore in the area, which baffled him. DeMoir Books is the only Black-owned brick-and-mortar bookstore in Memphis, which Jeremee said is a “beautiful, huge undertaking”. Representation matters and Jeremee realized there was a lot of work to be done, and he was willing to do it. DeMoir Books offers many programs to boost literacy in the community such as free book drives for children and teenagers, writer’s workshops, and any child 0 to 17 that walks in the store can pick out a book to take home with them, no purchase necessary.
Since running a bookstore is dream of Jeremee’s, I asked him what is his favorite aspect of running DeMoir Books and Things. He told me that his favorite thing is “Meeting new people and getting to help children and adults find that perfect book.” Jeremee cherishes getting acquainted with his customers because when he was a teacher, he talked to kids all day, but now he gets to talk with adults as well. He loves being able to talk to both because it made him realize that children and adults have so much in common, especially when it comes to books. “Seeing their eyes light up when they're talking about reading certain books and finding something that’s similar, something that they might like is always really great.”
Jeremee is also a huge fan of reading so I asked him about some books he would recommend to his younger self. The first book he recommends is King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callendar, a Middle Grade novel centering around a twelve year-old boy dealing with grief, identity, and figuring out where his place is in a racist world. Jeremee told me he picked this book because:“I wish I had read that for my younger self because when I lost my Grandparents super young, it was just like ‘What about me?’, but no one was really focused on the kids and so that would have been really cool to see another kid go through that process.” Another book he told me about was More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, a Young Adult novel that deals with mental health and trauma, but in a futuristic setting. He would recommend it to his younger self because, “It’s the kind of book that would have served as a mirror for my younger self.” And the last book he told me about was Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, a Young Adult Fantasy novel about a young Black woman living under a monarchy that stole her mother’s life and her people’s magic. The book follows her as she fights for her people and takes back what was rightfully theirs. “I wish this book would have existed when I was growing up, not only just for the representation, but for the fact that we had mutants and Marvel and we had DC, but we didn’t have enough of us in those comics…I wish we had more characters like Zélie that existed either on tv or in books.” Jeremee wants children to be able to see themselves in books like these, which is a big reason why he opened DeMoir Books because he wants the generations after him to never have to struggle to find themselves in books or comics or movies.
Lastly, I asked Jeremee why he loves being a small business in Memphis. “I love the relationships that come out of being a small business…I love being able to meet people everyday and learn their story and find out who a person is through the books they like.” When Jeremee talks about his bookstore and his community, you can tell that he loves what he does and the people that he works with. He loves being the pillar of representation for his community and being able to show Memphis that representation matters. But, he never thought about how much it was impacting people and said “So many people have just walked in and been like ‘Thank you so much for doing this.’ and I was like ‘What did I do?’. It’s really humbling because my whole thing was just to foster a love of reading and it was never to be this thing or to be that, it’s literally just because I saw a need and decided to do what I could to meet that need.” Jeremee is such a lovely person and I hope that everyone takes some time out of your day to visit DeMoir Books and Things on 739 North White Station Road in Memphis.
It was so wonderful to be able to sit down with Jeremee and get to know more about DeMoir Books. You can visit their website here: DeMoir Books and Things, as well as their Instagram and Facebook pages.
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