Growing up, Tony Gonzalez says his family didn’t have much money. The local library was free to enjoy and became a cherished spot where his mother often took him and his sister as children. “One of my fondest memories is reading in the library aisles and my sister and I trying (unsuccessfully) to suppress our laughter while enjoying Calvin and Hobbes comics,” he says.
He went on to become a software engineer, continuing his love of reading throughout adulthood. Three years ago, back home in Jensen Beach after a visit to St. Augustine, he and his wife, Juliette, discussed how much they loved one of the city’s quaint bookstores, Second Read Books. They realized that the Stuart area, despite all its community spirit, lacked an independent bookstore. They decided to change that and opened B Boutique near Sewall’s Point in November 2022.
They wanted the shop to reflect the unique and captivating charm of Stuart, infusing it with a warm, welcoming, and vibrant aura to draw local readers. They stocked the shelves with a thoughtfully curated selection of fiction and specialty books, including rare finds. Space and money were their biggest obstacles, so they focused on quality over quantity. “Our section of rare and collectible books houses some genuine gems,” says Gonzalez. “A second edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray holds a special place in my heart, closely followed by the Chartwell Edition of The Second World War by Winston Churchill. These are distinctive books that are hard to come by at local bookstores.”
Aside from books, B Boutique also carries a variety of fun gifts and home goods, including stylish glassware, scented bath and body products, and literary-themed candles.
To further engage the community, Gonzalez organizes book signings and release parties with local authors and hosts a “Go” club every Wednesday for those interested in learning and playing the strategic Chinese board game. There is also a monthly book club hosted at the shop, which is Gonzalez’s favorite event. “Hearty discussion with differing viewpoints breathes so much depth and range into stories and characters,” he says. The cost to join the book club is $25 a month, which includes a hardcover copy of each month’s book.
It’s this community aspect of B Boutique that Gonzalez treasures most. “While books can often be found cheaper at large retailers and online, the pandemic underscored the importance of community, which is as intangible as it is crucial to our well-being,” he says. “The increasing uniformity of our shopping environments negatively impacts our communal experience. Independent bookstores are as vital to the health of a functioning populace as public parks or town squares.”