The Chestnut Tree Bookshop – a profile

The Melbourne inner-city suburb of Footscray is one of the most diverse in Australia, a community that expects a local independent bookshop to reflect and support that diversity.

Reem Sweid’s The Chestnut Tree Bookshop (and café) meets those expectations with a broad product range, several community reading initiatives (like a Decolonisation Bookclub) and a total commitment to environmental best practice.

The Chestnut Tree Bookshop – a profile

Reem came to Melbourne sixteen years ago with her Australian partner who she me in London, thinking that an academic or social policy career was her future. Instead, in 2021 she decided to serve the community that she has been a part of for many years, by providing a space to celebrate reading and literature but also community and coffee.

“Vibrant local community is vital for healthy living,” she says. “We love seeing how books bring people together. Coffee too! Of course!”

Reem and her team have organised the space so that readers are encouraged to stop and take time out with their books. The Chestnut Tree Café space encourages people to linger among the books while they enjoy locally roasted coffee and fresh pastries, as their kids are occupied in their own child friendly lounge.

The Chestnut Tree Bookshop – a profile

The centrepiece of the store is the large communal table where the Chestnut Tree’s various bookclubs convene to meet and talk about the important things of life: “We have a general bookclub, a decolonise bookclub and a junior bookclub,” Reem tells us. “We also run a Parents and Bubs bookclub, bringing new mums together to talk about things (not baby related!)” she adds.

“The Chestnut Tree Bookshop isn’t just a place to buy books,” Reem insists. “It’s a place where the community comes together, a space where people connect and share their stories.”

While many businesses boast impressive environmental policies, Reem believes that The Chestnut Tree’s inspiring actions are making a difference every day.

“Producing books requires trees,” she says, “and we believe it’s our duty to replenish what we use. That’s why we make an effort to use recycled and carbon-neutral products whenever possible. Additionally, we support Greening Australia – national not-for-profit committed to restoring Australia’s diverse landscapes and protecting biodiversity.”

The Chestnut Tree Bookshop – a profile

Thanks to a partnership with Greening Australia, every book purchased at The Chestnut Tree Bookshop contributes to the natural environment. Greening Australia are committed to restoring and protecting the diversity of Australia’s ecosystems through replanting, revegetation, water quality projects and carbon sequestration.

The Chestnut Tree’s support for their community extends to a comprehensive benefit package for local schools. A quarterly catalogue, excellent discounts and attractive terms all work to keep local young people reading and schools connected to their local independent bookshop.

The Chestnut Tree Bookshop – a profile

A bright and spacious site on the busy West Footscray thoroughfare of Barkly Street is what attracts Chestnut Tree customers through the door but it is their commitment to community and the environment that keeps those readers (and coffee drinkers) coming back.



See more Bookstore Interviews

If you would like to know more information about CirclePOS book at call with one of our experts or email