Carturesti Carousel holds over 10,000 volumes and your undivided attention
Even as bookstores struggle to make ends meet financially, they enjoy broad social support from their neighbors, who see them as adding to the character of neighborhoods and providing an opportunity for conspicuous local consumption. Having a beautiful space to work with certainly doesn’t hurt, either. So when Romanian bookstore chain Carturesti was offered a space in a historical bank building, they jumped at the opportunity.
The bank in Bucharest’s Old Town has a rich history with some interesting intersections with communist rule. The building was owned by Greek banker Zannis Chrissoveloni in the late 19th century and was eventually passed down to his son Nicky, who steered it through the post-World War I boom years. When the Chrissoveloni bank was nationalized in 1960 by the Communists, the Chrissoveloni family fled to Greece. For the entire Communist era, the space was a men’s clothing store.
However, the current building owner, Jean Chrissoveloni, is the great-grandson of the 19th century banker, and he spent about 1 million euros lavishly restoring it before leasing it out for 10 years to the Carturesti chain. Outfitting it specifically for a bookstore cost an additional 400,000 euros.
This isn’t the first landmark chain for Carturesti, whose Carturesti Verona in downtown Bucharest has also remained a destination. However, this particular one, called the Carusel of Light, which has 1,000 square meters of space, has enjoyed unprecedented popularity, with 1,000 visitors arriving each day since February 12. The company has anticipated a 15 million euro turnover this year. It also houses a bistro and tea shop in the downstairs area, and will eventually set the stage for events and concerts.
The space, which holds over 10,000 volumes and 5,000 albums and DVDs, also features a computerized book search system, though according to some Facebook reviewers, it’s in need of improvement. Still, it’s a heartening sign of how conventional book stores can actually benefit from technology and prove their worth.
Carturesti | Carturesti Carusel