A new light is shining in downtown Clermont. Sunshine Book Co., an independent bookshop, opened its doors earlier this month inside a historic home built in 1915. 

The idea for Sunshine Book Co. was the result of a new life imagined by Beth Merrick, the shop’s owner. After Merrick was furloughed from her job at Disney after 28 years with the company, she wondered what the future might hold. Several months into her indefinite furlough, she came up with a plan B. To Merrick, an avid reader who loved visiting locally owned bookshops during her travels, opening a bookstore accomplished something she always dreamed of doing. 

She shared her idea with friends and family and received lots of encouragement. 

“It was crazy, but it ended up being really good timing. It’s interesting how you get that little nudge,” Merrick said. 

A fifth-generation Floridian, born and raised in Central Florida, Merrick knew that downtown Clermont was the perfect place for her new venture.

“The community is growing. There are so many activities and events and ways to partner with other downtown businesses. It seemed like the ideal location,” Merrick said. 

Since the store’s grand opening on April 3, Merrick has received a lot of positive feedback.

“I was truly touched to see all the encouragement and response from the community, in person and on social media,” she said. 

Supporting the local community was one of Merrick’s core goals with opening the shop. She partnered with several local businesses for many of the shop’s needs, from the security system to the shelving. 

Determined to offer a vast book selection to a diverse community of readers, Merrick keeps many genres on hand, including bestsellers and local interest novels. There are also dedicated sections for poetry, children, young adults and romance, to name a few.  

Customers can also order titles online for a more extensive selection of hard-to-find books. 

Sunshine Book Co. serves refreshments with baked goods from local bakers. There are also various boutique items like stationery, Clermont-themed souvenirs, candles, stickers and bookmarks designed by local artists. 

Many of the items in the shop were crafted by fellow furloughed Disney Cast Members, who Merrick found through a Facebook group that showcases new businesses by furloughed and laid off Cast Members. 

Sunshine Book Co. hosts events throughout the year, as well. Their next celebration will be for Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 24. They will offer prizes, live author readings, the ability to earn free audiobook credits, literary activities (like adding to their “Poet Tree” for National Poetry Month) and more throughout the day. Visit www.sunshinebookco.com for an updated list of events. 

The bookshop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. They have extended hours during many of downtown Clermont’s events, like First Fridays and the weekly Farmers Market. They are located at 647 Lake Avenue in Clermont and can be reached at  352-404-6077.

Merrick was called back to her job at Disney, so she juggles working full time and running the bookshop, as well. 

“I have a great support system. I have a wonderful husband, children and friends that step in to help. I’m definitely not doing it alone,” Merrick said. 


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