LAKELAND — The new independent bookstore and coffee shop coming to downtown Lakeland can trace its beginnings to a postcard.
Christina Needham, 32, owns Pressed LKLD Books & Coffee shop with her husband, Paul Needham, 33. While the lease for the new shop was secured in March, it got its name more than three years ago from Paul’s brother.
“We were at a family vacation and we were talking about this idea and we were trying to come up with names. And he mailed us a postcard a week later that said ‘How about Pressed?'” Christina Needham said. “And it was dated, I think, January of 2018. So I’ve kept the postcard. [I’m] planning to frame it and we’ll give him credit for it.”
Needham left her 10-year career in music education to pursue Pressed full time. She said everything really kicked into gear in December, when she started looking for buildings to rent.
Barely half a year later, Needham is aiming for an end-of-July opening for the new shop at 213 E. Bay St., a space that has previously hosted small businesses such as Twenty Seven and Honeycomb Bread Bakers. While Honeycomb has found a new brick-and-mortar spot in Winter Haven, it will live on at its previous Lakeland location, as Pressed will serve premade Honeycomb goods.
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Needham envisions the space as somewhere where people will gather, not just pass through.
“We’ve just been surrounded by books our whole life, and we felt that Lakeland downtown could be a great opportunity to open a little bookstore,” Needham said.
Pressed LKLD will join popular coffee spots like Black & Brew and Mitchell’s Coffee House downtown. But Needham says the inclusion of the bookstore and the overall mission for Pressed sets it apart.
“I think [I and my husband] both found it would be a great opportunity to be a gathering space, so recognizing that it’s important to take time to slow down and both books and coffee are things you enjoy slowly,” Needham said. “So our vision for this space is to be a gathering space for people to work, read, engage in conversations and to be a resource in our community.”
The plan is for Pressed to be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. The shop will close Sundays and Mondays.
At night, the bookstore and coffeehouse will transform into an event space for book clubs, workshops, art shows and poetry readings, according to Needham’s vision.
Needham is looking to hire five or six part-time staffers to work as baristas serving coffee from Lakeland-based Ethos Coffee Roasters. Ethos, which serves as the primary roaster for other Polk County hotspots such as Sweet Cup Cafe, Unfiltered and N+1 Coffee, works directly with farmers and pays three to four times market value for coffee beans, said owner Lisbeth Pacheco. The beans come primarily from Guatemala, where Needham is from, Colombia, where her husband is from, as well as Nicaragua and Peru.
“We’re super excited about working with Christina and Pressed, and you know, she’s hopefully going to bring something different downtown that’s going to be a great addition to the community,” Pacheco said. “I really love coffee, and I really love books. So you know, having coffee and books under one roof, I think it’s just, it’s perfect and it speaks to creating opportunity.”
Pacheco was particularly attracted to working with Pressed because of the emphasis on learning and education. Pacheco said she wants to “tie our coffee to opportunity” because she immigrated to the U.S. as a student herself.
“I know that [Needham] does want to create those kinds of opportunities for people to find like-minded individuals and kind of come together and discuss like different topics or different things,” Pacheco said. “I think it’s going to be very exciting and very nice to see.”
Pacheco said Pressed will serve the full array of Ethos’ coffee on a rotating basis.
Pressed will incorporate other local partnerships, Needham said. Some of her furniture is from local shops Vintage Warehouse and June Taylor. Local illustrator MockingbirdArtist will offer products such as notebooks and mugs. And Vakti Gallery will feature pieces inside the shop.
Gallery Director Olivia Overholt said there will be 10 larger gallery pieces in wall alcoves and there may be additional pieces added above the bookshelves. She added that the art will be rotated out with a new collection each month and all art will be available for purchase.
While Vakti has an online gallery, the artists also get to participate in pop-up shows once a month around Central Florida. Overholt said that Pressed is an environment where both art and artists “will receive adoration and respect for their boldness and originality.”
“When art is placed on a wall and carefully curated with other pieces, the emotional value of the art increases,” Overholt said in an email. “Vakti comes from the root word for speech; at Vakti Gallery, we believe that art is a form of speech. Independent bookstores are spaces where words mean everything. You go to an independent bookstore to hear what authors have to say.”
Needham said that she and her husband have hand-picked all of the books for Pressed, which will number 1,600 at any given time. While the store will continuously get new titles in, if you don’t see something you want, Needham said they can always order it.
Although it’s her first small business, Needham isn’t nearly as worried as she is excited to see what comes of her dream.
“I feel blessed to have this opportunity. I’ve been in Lakeland for 20 years and I love the community here, I love the people, and I enjoy owning a business. I like the work and I like the details,” Needham said. “And my hope is that people enjoy being in the space, that it brings them joy.”
Maya Lora can be reached with tips or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mayaklora.
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