A Novel Idea: Arcadia Alumni Spotlight
As college students, much of our time is spent planning for our futures. It’s inspiring to see success stories about recent alumni like Christina Rosso-Schneider, an Arcadia graduate who now owns a thriving bookstore on Passyunk Avenue in Philadelphia called A Novel Idea. I was interested in learning more about Christina and her business, so I got her contact information and set up an interview to ask her some questions.
When I asked about her education path, Christina said that she “always knew that writing was what [she] wanted to do”—even though people tried to talk her out of it. Her life’s earliest memories were of writing. I really resonated with this, as I was never sure where my English major would take me, but I knew it was what I wanted to do. After she earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Christina had many different teaching opportunities until her true interests and passions led her to opening A Novel Idea.
Christina shared that the idea of the bookstore actually formed out of a casual joke. In 2017, she and her now-husband, Alexander, were engaged and living together while both feeling extremely overworked and underappreciated in their jobs. One day they saw an open store front, and her husband noticed aloud that their neighborhood was missing a bookstore and that they should open one. Though neither of them took it seriously at the time, the idea was planted.
While admitting that opening a bookstore had seemed “very dreamy and unrealistic,” Christina and Alexander wanted to blend their passions and spend more time together. With this motivation and a lot of work, they were able to make the business become a reality.
“Her story encouraged me and others to do what we love in our futures, even if it requires a high amount of commitment.”
I asked Christina about the entrepreneurial process of starting a small business and if she had advice for those that may want to do something similar. Without sugarcoating it, she explained how “it is a huge time commitment and there is no work-life balance.” She described how she and her husband researched, planned, and raised funds for a year, and how the work is constant now that the store is open. In order to start a business, Christina shared that you need to research the demographics and demand in an area, be mindful of finances because many small businesses cannot get a loan, and be aware of how to find and track inventory.
Before the end of our conversation, I asked Christina for a few book suggestions, as I thought that she would be the perfect source to go to. She excitedly provided me with fictional novels that she had read, including Payback’s A Witch, a romance novel (by Lana Harper) that’s interspersed with magic, which Christina found to be perfect for this time of year; We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry, which maintains the magic theme and focuses on high school field hockey players; and Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica. Christina said she cannot stop thinking about this story—originally Argentinian and focusing on ideas of consumption—and its shocking events in a dystopian world. Spoiler warning: It does include cannibalism, but she made assurances that it would be worth the read if you could get past that.
Christina has a clear passion for what she does, and I can relate to her interests. She provided me with just one example of a path Arcadia students can take after graduation. Her story encouraged me and others to do what we love in our futures, even if it requires a high amount of commitment.
Located on 1725 East Passyunk Avenue in Philadelphia, A Novel Idea is a local bookstore owned by 2016 Arcadia alum Christina Rosso-Schneider and her husband Alexander.