Update: Unfortunately, Bel and Bunna’s has closed permanently as of May 2023. The store will be missed.
One owner of Lafayette, California’s Bel and Bunna books is a delightful, knowledgeable woman named Bel, with a British accent and a deep knowledge of books. The other owner is a stuffed rabbit.
That’s the kind of whimsy that you’ll find in abundance at this small independent bookstore. Bel and Bunna’s is located down a small side alley in the heart of downtown Lafayette. Inside is an emporium of carefully-selected books for new readers, Harry Potter-obsessed teens, and everyone in between.
Bel stocks popular books like the Diary of a Whimpy Kid series and the aforementioned Harry Potter books (Bunna’s role in inventory decisions isn’t immediately clear). But she also stocks less commercial, more unique fare.
Among these are a solid selection of books about female leaders, books about gender topics, an inclusive set of books about world religions, and lots of Spanish language books.
The store’s shelves are filled top to bottom with books, but the store feels prim and organized—not like the chaotic jumble of books you see in some independent stores. Bel also provides Legos, art supplies, and more to keep kids engaged.
In addition to books, the store also stocks unique small gifts, cards designed by a local artist, and more. Bel sees the store as an oasis from digital distractions and lives lived increasingly online. You won’t find tablets or video games here; just lots of books, an impressive collection of Harry Potter Lego creations and comfy seating.
Although Bel and Bunna’s is open for people who want to drop in and browse, the store is especially nice as a venue for book-centered birthday parties.
Parties at the store include a story time with Bel, who excels at engaging with kids and also picking books appropriate for her audience. If you’ve never seen an audience of five-year-olds listen to several books in a row with rapt attention, prepare to be pleasantly surprised.
Bel originally comes from the corporate world, and Bel and Bunna’s books is clearly a labor of love for her. Visit her store, and you’ll love it, too.