Bookstore in Elk Grove provides safe space for all


Lydia Tesfaye

A new bookstore called A Seat at the Table Books has opened in Elk Grove. A Seat at the Table has an assortment of books, tables for customers to sit, a cafe and a play area for kids.

Promoting inclusivity and encouraging community involvement, A Seat at the Table is a bookstore located in Elk Grove.

Beginning as a website with occasional pop-up events, co-owner Emily Autenrieth explained how the bookstore at 9257 Laguna Springs Drive Suite 130 became what it is today.

“That was always the vision, so when I got this idea in early 2019, three years ago, I wanted to give Elk Grove this whole experience of a brick-and-mortar bookstore cafe, but it’s a big endeavor,” Autenrieth said. “But the pop-up was a way for us to get that book selling experience, get into the community, kind of establish ourselves before we opened the brick-and-mortar that was always the goal.”

When first entering the bookstore, you see the cafe where you can order an array of hot or cold beverages, sweets, sandwiches and snacks. As you continue into the store, there are tables for customers to sit, a play area for kids and an assortment of books all around.

The bookstore is determined to provide a space for everyone to enjoy and feel they are welcomed as they want to make people feel celebrated and valued, Autenrieth said.

“We are very mission driven. We exist to uplift the oppressed and smash the patriarchy through the power of books, coffee and community,” Autenrieth said.“And we are just really radically and I don’t know, yeah, we’re very radically committed to making sure everyone has a seat at the table.”

Barista and bookseller Andrea Martinez explained what made the bookstore special and her experience working there.

“​​Oh man, I love the mission of the place. That’s actually why I applied here, was because I read that and I immediately felt drawn to it. I felt connected with it. And then I met the people and it just made me love it even more,” Martinez said. “And the community, like the way that they support this place, the way that they connect with the place and relate with the places showed me like what a great community it is.”

Martinez said her favorite part about the bookstore is all the events they host.

“My favorite part is the community events that we have because there’s so many different ones,” Martinez said. “So it’s amazing that people want to work with us. It’s amazing how many people show up for those events and how willing we are to coordinate those events with others as well.”

One of those community events that the bookstore hosts are poetry nights the first Friday of every month. There are many more events throughout the month that you can see on A Seat at the Table’s website or on their Instagram page.

Autenrieth said the bookstore has added an extra element to Elk Grove that everyone at any age can enjoy.

“We’re actually doing last but I see so many people come in and they’re gushing or they’re in tears or they’re writing on Yelp about how this is everything that they’ve needed that they haven’t had here,” Autenrieth said. “Or they are seeing themselves in ways that they’ve never seen themselves.”

Autenrieth also said the bookstore has a play area in a physical space that is meaningful to parents.

“There’s nowhere else in Elk Grove you can go and let the kids play for free while you actually enjoy yourself as an adult,” Autenrieth said.

Customer Bianca Roberts said she loves the bookstore and brings her kids to show them all the different kinds of books as it teaches them more about diversity in their community.

“I’ve been here a couple times and usually I’m looking for books that have representation, especially for my kids,” Roberts said.

Roberts explained how the diverse amount of books sold at A Seat at the Table has helped show diversity and inclusivity.

“Yeah, and actually just bought a whole bunch of these books and donated them to my kids’ school too. Just because I know a lot of curriculums don’t include diversity, diverse stories,” Roberts said. “You know, it was Read Across America the other day and, you know, the question I had was, well, what kind of America? Because America is very diverse, right? So if those you know, books are not in our schools, and how do the kids see themselves represented as successful and where they play a part in this country, which is our country too.”

Roberts said how impactful the bookstore has been to the community so far.

“So I think that it’s had a really positive impact on the community. And I think the kids in this area, especially you’re going to grow up learning diverse stories and hearing about people from diverse backgrounds,” Roberts said. “So I think that diversity is important. And if we don’t have books that show diversity, then kids aren’t going to learn about other people and how to be inclusive.”
A Seat at the Table is open Mondays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.