PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Be prepared to fall in love with the new romance bookstore opening near Downtown Vancouver.

Founded by Bay Area native Ren Rice, The Romance Era Bookshop will open its doors for the first time this Saturday.

Rice, a loyal “Star Wars” fan, told KOIN 6 their affinity for the romance genre started during the COVID-19 lockdown when they would read fanfiction inspired by the popular series as a form of escapism.

Ren Rice, owner of The Romance Era Bookshop
Ren Rice, owner of The Romance Era Bookshop, photographed by Solanah H.(Courtesy Rice)

Their interest in romance novels snowballed from there, but until last fall, opening a bookstore was merely a retirement goal for Rice — who’s just 35 years old.

“I don’t think a lot of us realize that there is time to pursue passion projects, and just were never given the guidance or steps to pursue those,” Rice said. “My therapist was like, ‘Just do it. There’s never going to be a right time. You just kind of have to go for it.’”

Thus, The Romance Era Bookshop was born. But in the brand’s early phases, the owner mostly conducted business from their residence and sold products online or at pop-up events throughout Vancouver.

However, Rice stated that pop-up events aren’t as common during the colder months. So in June, they shared a social media post asking if anyone had connections to a space that could hold The Romance Era Bookshop.

That’s when they learned about the Lincoln Warehouse Project, a primarily 18+, ‘sex-positive’ space that champions creatives and small business owners of all backgrounds.

The next step was gathering the funds to run the bookstore. Although it had received some support from the pop-up and online sales, Rice says the income from their full-time job wouldn’t be enough to sustain a brick-and-mortar space.

A friend suggested that Rice start a GoFundMe for The Romance Era. After a while of resisting any help from outsiders — which is apparently something Rice is working on in therapy — they were inspired by the Los Angeles romance bookstore that was able to open after crowdfunding.

“While my initial goal was $5,000, and I got a little over ($3,000), I wasn’t even expecting to get that high. I didn’t realize that there was such a desire for anything like what I’m doing, for Vancouver specifically, because I just never really considered it. But a lot of people are excited to have it here and I’m excited to have it here, too,” Rice said.

The queer-owned, Black-owned bookstore will open this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on 1701 Lincoln Ave. After that, the business will be open Monday through Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rice notes that the bookshop is a small space in the warehouse.

“It’s like hanging at your bestie’s house,” they said.