Owner hopes to create ‘cornerstone for the community’ at new downtown State College store

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A new locally owned bookstore will open in downtown State College later this summer.

The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop is setting up shop at 103 S. Allen St. in the heart of the borough. According to its social media pages, the store plans to host a grand opening ceremony in mid-August.

On its Facebook page, The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop said it hopes to be a place “where stories are discovered and created, voices heard and celebrated, and where imagination and a bit of whimsy are constant companions during your visit.” On top of books, the store says it will sell stationery, ink, pens and pencils, bookshelves and more. Some titles are already available for sale through The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop’s website.

Andrew Aschwanden, the store’s owner and a research technician at Penn State, said The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop also hopes to host contests and workshops for local readers and writers. He plans to host both local and national authors for book signings and appearances.

“We hope to have our bookstore be a cornerstone for the community — a hub that not only attracts the university community but connects with people throughout Centre County,” Aschwanden said. “Though we hope everyone who can will visit our shop, we also hope to provide opportunities to connect with them outside of the store as well.”

The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop is the latest business to announce it will open in State College this summer, joining the likes of Raising Cane’s and a new storefront for Way Fruit Farm. Local officials say new development downtown is picking up steam at just the right time.

“This is exactly the kind of business we are looking for in downtown State College,” said Lee Anne Jeffries, the executive director of the Downtown State College Improvement District. “We are excited to welcome them and provide tools, services, and support to help them succeed here.”

The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop is moving into the former location of The Animal Kingdom, a children’s store that was owned and operated by State College Area High School graduate Lindsay Williamson. Following more than 30 years in business, The Animal Kingdom merged with Growing Tree Toys just two blocks away at 202 S. Allen St.

“I love that space,” Williamson said while announcing the move in January. “There’s definitely emotion attached to that, but the store is not going away.”