The Last Page: Alsace Walentine & Candice Anderson, Tombolo Books co-owners

The Last Page is dedicated to individuals who are making a positive impact on the LGBTQ community in Tampa Bay and Central Florida.

This issue, we check in with Alsace Walentine and Candice Anderson, co-owners of Tombolo Books, the fan favorite independent bookstore in St. Petersburg. Learn even more about them at and keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers in your community.

What do you do professionally?

We own and manage a local independent bookstore which opened in St. Pete’s Grand Central District in December 2019. As small business owners we are involved in everything from sweeping the floors to selecting and ordering the books on the shelves.

We love the indie bookstore industry – we get to engage with writers, publishers and other book lovers. It’s a privilege to play a role in connecting our community to voices and stories that provide comfort, inspiration and over the last year, the occasional mental vacation.

Alsace was the events manager at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe for 16 years before we moved to St. Pete and author events are a big part of our vision for Tombolo Books. We take a lot of joy in organizing author events where we can geek out with local readers – the connection between a writer and a local audience is always unique.

We’ve been able to host author events via Zoom for the last year, but we look forward to starting up in person readings again later this year.

How do you champion for the local LGBTQ community?

We want to be a place where LGBTQ folks can find representation. We view bookstores as cultural intersections, so we make an effort to carry books telling intersectional LGBTQ stories from varied eras and geographies.

What is your favorite thing to read in Watermark?

Arts and culture pieces.

What is your favorite local LGBTQ event?

The LGBTQ Resource Center of the Gulfport Public Library’s ReadOut.

What is your favorite thing about your local LGBTQ community?

We love being a part of a thriving LGBTQ-owned local business community. It’s part of what attracted us to moving here and we’re so glad we did.

What would you like to see improved in your local LGBTQ community?

To see more white allies in our community put our power and experience behind the struggle for racial justice.

What would you like our readers to know about you?

No, neither of us has seen “You’ve Got Mail.”

What advice would you give your younger selves?

Don’t be afraid of change – motion and change are what will make you stronger and resilient.

How did your relationship prepare you for owning and operating Tombolo together?

We had been together for 11 years before we started planning on the bookstore, so we had a good foundation. It has served us well because starting a business together introduces a lot of new challenges and growth.

What have been some of the most rewarding or challenging aspects of running Tombolo, and how has the store navigated COVID-19?

Just the process of creating something new out of our imaginations and hard work has been incomparably rewarding. The positive response to our crowdfunding campaign in 2019 was inspiring and motivating. Of course, it’s been challenging to operate for most of our first year during the pandemic, but it’s helped us develop some parts of the business we may have otherwise back-burnered, like our webstore and delivery service

Hometown: Asheville, NC

Identifies As: Lesbians

Pronouns: She/Her

Out Year: Late 90’s

Professions: Independent Bookstore Owners

Professional Role Models: Emoke B’Racz, founder of Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe and Jezanna Ramsay, owner-manager of Madwimmin Books

Autobiography Title: “The Book Was Better”

Hobbies: Yoga, walking our dog Zelda, birdwatching, sea kayaking, alphabetizing books.

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