Baltimore Insider

New independent bookstore Charm City Books set to open in Pigtown next month

As an English lit major, Daven Ralston knows about books. Beginning next month, she’ll be sharing that appreciation and expertise with the residents of Pigtown.

Charm City Books, an independent bookstore and performance space run by Ralston and her husband, Joseph Carlson, is set to open Oct. 5 in a former police substation at 782 Washington Blvd. The business, Ralston said, should play to both their strengths.


“Books were such a fundamental part of my life growing up,” she said. And with both of them involved with acting and other performing arts, she says, “we wanted to create a space where we can host artistic or literary-centered endeavors, and also make it available to other artists and members of the community.”

The building has two stories, Ralston said. The bookstore will be on the first floor and will include a little bit of everything, including a small youth section. “We may not be able to carry every single title, but we can order,” she promised.


The second floor will serve as a space for classes, workshops and events, including theater and music performances. Even the first floor, thanks to its bookshelves on wheels, can be rearranged when necessary to turn it into a performance space.

“We want to offer something to the community beyond just the shopping,” Ralston, 30, said. “We’re really trying to cater it to getting people involved in literature, performing arts and reading.”

Running a bookstore won’t be a totally new experience for Ralston. While living in Alexandria, Virginia, she worked at Old Town Books there, “so I could learn some tricks of the trade.”

Opening something like Charm City Books has long been a goal for the couple, who are living in Woodberry. “We’ve always talked about wanting to open a space,” she said.

Big plans are in the offing for the Oct. 5 opening, Ralston said, centered on a noon ribbon-cutting ceremony. Other planned events include live music from trumpeter Brandon Woody and his band, a craft hour and theater performance, and a reading from author D. Watkins.