Bookstore chain Livraria Cultura was started in São Paulo in the late 1940’s when Eva Herz, who had left Berlin in 1938 to escape from the Nazis, used a spare room at her house to start a rental library in order to help the family in their new country. Today, the bookstore chain has 11 locations across Brazil and claims one of the most extensive selections of titles -– some 3.5 million –- in the country. Along with books and e-books, Cultura sells CDs, DVDs and magazines and has an average of 150,000 units in each store; it’s e-commerce site is also very popular.
Cultura’s branch São Paulo’s Paulista Avenue is the chain’s largest store and measures 4,300 sq.-m. It may come as a surprise to many that a store of such stature has not had an outpost in Rio de Janeiro — a situation that is finally about to change: Pedro Herz, Eva’s son and the chain’s owner, is planning to open two stores in Rio this year. One of them will be built close to the port, a still somewhat degraded area. Cultura has rented a 3,000 sq.-m building that previously housed the Cine Vitória movie theater several decades ago and is preserved as a heritage site by the city.
The hope is that the new store will help bring people into the area. The second store is a more modest 1,000 sq.-m, at will be located in the Fashion Mall, a high end shopping center in the neighborhood of São Conrado.
Both stores will have a coffee shop and the store at the port will also house a theater that will host plays, shows and author events. In all, the firm expects to hire some 180 employees to staff the two new locations.