Cool Friends: Leigh Altshuler 

Headshot by Hiram Durán
March 25, 2022

Meet Leigh, owner of Sweet Pickle Books: a new(ish) Lower East Side institution that sells pickles (fun) and a curated collection of vintage books (the best!) We caught up with Leigh to hear how she made her dream a reality during the darkest hours of the pandemic in New York.

How did you start your LES bookstore, Sweet Pickle Books?

I lost my job (like many folks) in March of 2020. The city was closed and I spent most of the following months reading in my apartment. It was a confusing shame that bookstores were struggling while liquor stores were deemed "essential".  Opening a bookshop was always a dream of mine. I didn't have many other job prospects. I decided to go for it.

I signed a lease for a storefront and for my 29th birthday, my boyfriend Costa (who runs agency Virtually Real) gifted me with branding for the store. I ran around the city schlepping books (with the tremendous help of Costa) down fifth floor walk ups, into my Jeep and down to Orchard Street. The store officially opened in November and has been a nonstop joy ever since.

What’s your favorite part about the New York Creative community?

New Yorkers are all open books (:smirk:). We love talking to strangers and that conversation fosters so many creative connections. I meet creative people wherever I go:  the bookstore (of course), the laundromat, the grocery store, the coffee shop. I went to get a martini on Friday and met a past life regressionist. If you're looking for it, it'll find you. There's nowhere else in the world like that.

What’s inspiring you right now?

Paris, Nora Ephron, Simone de Beauvoir, Palm Springs, Wes Anderson, strawberries (and therefore: baking pies), my customers, furniture made before 1976, Costa and my Mom.

Follow along:
@sweetpicklebooks on Instagram

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