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Old Town Books Popping Up by Waterfront with Help from Alexandria Economic Development Partnership

Alexandria Economic Development Partnership Brings New Independent Pop-Up Bookstore to Old Town

Ally Fitzgerald with friends and family behind the scenes setting up the new Old Town Books shop at 104 S. Union Street. (Photo by Lucelle O’Flaherty)

The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP) announced the latest partnership for their growing and popular retail pop-up program is Old Town Books, a new independent bookstore.

The general interest based bookstore located in the historic 104 South Union building, will feature literary fiction and non-fiction, with a focus on new releases, up-and-coming authors, and book club picks.  The pop-up will also have a merchandise section of greeting cards and gifts for book lovers. The store will also be a place for community engagement through book clubs, author events, writers groups, and workshops and will have a cozy kids nook with picture books, young adult books, board books, toys, puzzles, and games.

Alexandria Native Runs the Stacks

Owner Ally Kirkpatrick, a native Alexandrian, left New York City where she worked at New York University as an academic advisor to undergraduates studying Media, Culture, and Communication to launch her business concept.

She grew up in the Fort Hunt area of Alexandria and is a graduate of West Potomac High School. She was an English major as an undergraduate, and earned her masters of art in creative non-fiction at NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Her passion for books and supporting emerging writers runs deep as she is a writer herself. She is developing her first book project –  a memoir titled The Green Cabin Year – and is represented by literary agent Kate Garrick at the Karpfinger Agency in New York.

AEDP’s Pop-up ALX Program

AEDP’s Pop-up ALX program arranges pop-ups around Old Town Alexandria, allowing vendors to test the Alexandria market without making long-term commitments. The agency collaborates with local property owners, brokers, and business community members to help run the program.

“The goal is to make Old Town Books a literary events hub, with everything from a weekly free story time to a-list author readings,”  said owner Ally Kirkpatrick. “My dream is that this shop becomes a cornerstone of the community, a space to explore new ideas, discover great books, and celebrate the power of reading.”

“We are so excited that AEDP helped play a role in bringing this bookstore to Old Town,” said AEDP business development associate Marie Plishka.  “Ally is exactly the person we had in mind when designing the pop-up program – she is testing the market without having to sign an expensive, multi-year lease.  We think she is going to do well and look forward to helping her open a permanent shop next year after the pop-up closes.”

Opening November 24

Old Town Books open to the public on Small Business Saturday, November 24th from 10am – 8pm. The pop-up will operate from 10am – 8pm daily in its current location through April 2019, and will look for a larger and permanent space in Old Town.

Free Events on the Calendar

Upcoming Old Town Books free events include: Authors Hannah Bae and Lisa Jakub, in conversation with journalist Tayla Burney on the essay collection (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health on Nov. 27th at 6:30 PM; Weekly storytime for kids every Thursday and Saturday at 11am, beginning on Nov. 24th.

Ticketed Events

Upcoming Old Town Books ticketed events include: Cookbook authors Cathy Barrow (Pie Squared) and Brian Noyes (Red Truck Bakery Cookbook) in conversation with Washington Post Deputy Food Editor Bonnie Benwick on December 8th at 11am; Author Nicole Chung (All You Can Ever Know) will deliver a craft talk on memoir writing on December 15th at 5pm. Ticketed events are priced at the cost of the featured book, and are available for purchase through the Old Town Books website,

For More Info on ALX Pop Ups

Since its launch in 2016, AEDP’s pop-up retail & art program has been growing in popularity and offers a variety of benefits and incentives for businesses who are looking for temporary space. The mission of the program is to match property owners who have empty first-floor vacant space with retail entrepreneurs and/or creative activation concepts on a short-term basis. With the City’s recent accolades as the “Number 1 Travel Destination in the U.S.” by Money Magazine, Alexandria is primed to be a great spot for entrepreneurs to pop-up and test their concept. The program also helps property owners raise awareness of vacant spaces by bringing temporary uses, and their customers and visitors, into their properties.

Past successful Alexandria pop-ups have included 116 King Street fashion pop-up, the Scrooge Emporium Ugly Sweater Holiday pop-up, and transforming 104 South Union Street as a gallery and show space for several local artists collaborations like The Art League and the International Institute of Photography. For more information on AEDP’s pop-up program, visit

Old Town Books Pop-Up
104 South Union Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

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