By Meagan Kearney

    Exciting news from the WeFo end of Barkly St – a gorgeous new bookshop and cafe has opened offering click and collect and delivery; it is ready for purchase in store when lockdown rules allow.

    The Chestnut Tree Bookshop and Café is proud to be an environmentally sustainable, independent store committed to reforestation. By buying a book from their wide range of fiction and non-fiction books, they will plant a native tree in bushfire affected areas of Australia. To do this they have partnered with environmental not for profit, One Tree Planted.

    The design of the store by architecture firm Ewert Leaf, is a hybrid of retail and hospitality, housing over 10,000 books combined with a coffee bar and seating to grab a coffee and read your new favourite book. Drawing upon mid-century modernist design with a warm palette of cork flooring, walnut wall panelling, live greenery and a feature burgundy ceiling invites readers into the tactile experience of reading physical books. Print is not dead!

    Academic, Community Leader and now proud bookshop owner Reem Sweid believes no suburb is complete without a bookshop so took the leap and opened one in her local area. Born in the United States to Syrian parents and raised in London and the Middle East, Reem met her Australian husband whilst studying in London and he lured her to Melbourne in 2008. Living in West Footscray for more than 10 years, “last year’s lockdown really clarified how much our little community needs a local bookshop,” says Reem.

    A fun and daunting task that comes with opening a bookshop is curating the list of around 10,000 books and vinyl to fill the shelves! The Chestnut Tree Bookshop will prioritise indigenous writers, local writers and writers from multicultural backgrounds. It will seek to promote the works of female writers and Australian writers. The bookshop has a progressive lean, with a range of non-fiction books addressing issues on climate change, inequality, social welfare and translated fiction. It also offers a thoughtful and considered selection of children’s and youth books that reflect diverse families and traditions with inspiring messages.

    Books and a warming beverage are a match made in heaven. The café offers the option to linger and browse books while enjoying selected local suppliers including ethically sourced coffee by Rumble, hot chocolate by Mork, tea by Beiteshai, handmade chai by Chai Villain and Motte bakery pastries in a lovely environment.

    Reem and the team have been overwhelmed by the amazing community support, messages and waves at the window and can’t wait to fully open The Chestnut. “We believe a bookshop really belongs to the community, it is an extension of our homes, a place to come together, to meet and to share. With this in mind, the bookshop has been designed to accommodate small meetings, like book clubs or writers groups, and small events including poetry readings, book launches and children’s story time,” Reem said. Local book reader Belle Hann commented, “I’ve been walking by the store, it looks beautiful and it has been giving us all something to look forward to post-lockers.”

    “It’s been early mornings and long days but we’re getting there, we can’t wait to fling open our doors so our customers can enjoy their local bookshop and browse and buy in store,” Reem said.

    In the meantime, click and collect if you live or work within 5 kms or order delivery via

    The Chestnut Bookshop and Cafe

    542 Barkly St, West Footscray

    (03) 9362 7571




    Open hours when permitted:
    Tuesday – Saturday:

    Sunday: 10am—3pm

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