We've all gotten used to a Zoom box over the last year, for some, connecting with folks online is a safety blanket. However, one Killeen bookstore is challenging their shoppers to disconnect to connect.
'There is no Wi-Fi, talk to each other', that's what you can find on the walls at the Modern Tribe Bookshop. The owner Maeva Gutierrez is encouraging her customers to put down the phone, meaningful connections, and crack open a book.
"It goes back again to making meaningful connections," said Gutierrez. "No one comes into a bookstore upset so that's a good thing. They come in here ready to kind of learn more and they come in here with an open mind and an open heart."
It's kind of like a Jedi mind trick that Maeva Guiterrez is pulling on her customers because they actually do have WiFi, but it's all for a good cause.
Guiterrez actually started her bookstore online, after deciding to home school her children. She said she wanted to expand their minds and the literature they were exposed to, so Modern Tribe Bookstore was born.
The shop officially opened up in May. Coming out of a year like 2020, Guiterrez says reconnecting with your neighbor is the key.
Gutierrez said, "Right now, a lot of things are ego-driven 'I want, I want, I want'. So, I wanted to create a space where it's all about meeting each other and wanting to know more about each other."
Breaking the impulse to turn to technology for everything is a challenge, especially relying on it every day.
Dr. Bruce Bowles Jr., a professor of English at Texas A&M Central Texas, said technology has impacted the way we view just about everything.
"That does change the way we engage with books and texts overall, beyond just literature, film music, COVID ect. I think the inter-connectivity is the real change you're seeing is to help people are dealing with text, you know, we still read somewhere solitary and sometimes, but we're having these conversations because of the inter-connectivity," said Dr. Bowles.
It's a habit Guiterrez challenges her customers to break every day.
"Let's be curious because you just never know who you're going to run to and the amazing stories that they have and how it can shift your perspective and ultimately your life," Guiterrez said.
With books stretching across genres, Guiterrez encourages you to get from behind the computer screen and engage in some real conversation.
Guiterrez is also in the beginning stages of starting a non-profit that will provide literature to under-served communities. She is striving to create a space for creatives in the community, by holding events like Indie Fridays, that welcome local poets and musicians to come out and connect. Her store is located at 2710 S Clear Creek Rd. in Suite 109 in Killeen.