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Take one look inside Cliff Notes bookstore in North Oak Cliff and you will feel genuinely welcomed.  The brightly painted orange walls offer a warm atmosphere, only increased by the friendly demeanor of Cliff Notes’ owner Opalina Salas. Rosie Lindsey Photography

In conjunction with her husband Carlos, Opalina opened Cliff Notes, a bookstore that sells mostly used, independently published books, in 2009 in an attempt to encourage local interaction around a community staple such as a bookstore.  She said that growing up in a small town, everyone gathered at the local bookstore to meet and interact, and her goal for Cliff Notes is that it will inspire the same reaction from Oak Cliff residents. 

From the minute Opalina began discussing her Oak Cliff ties, it was apparent that community involvement was extremely important to the bookstore.  “The books are really secondary,” she said, maintaining that Cliff Notes’ priorities lie in local involvement.  “People come here, meet, and have discussions,” she said, while explaining how on multiple occasions, parents have brought their children in to meet other children, later to discover the two families live on the same street.

A recent move to 1214 W. Davis has afforded the opportunity for local involvement to increase.  While only moving about three doors down from its previous location, Cliff Notes has acquired an extra room, to be used for artist exhibitions and a DIY Market on the weekend of Sept. 9-10, which Opalina said will contain booths and tables available for local artists and vendors to display artwork and merchandise.  “Everybody we know is doing something creative,” she said, further explaining the store’s interest in hosting the weekend market.

Photo by Rosie Lindsey Photography

In addition to the DIY Market, Cliff Notes offers a weekly Story Time on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Rotating hosts, consisting of locals including artists, musicians and poets, read to audience members, whose ages traditionally range from infant to 8 years old.  Opalina made sure to clarify, however, that all ages are welcome at Story Time, even telling how occasionally, depending on the host, there are more adults than children. It is clear, though, that Story Time is for the kids.  “We’re poets and writers and we want kids to know that it’s another avenue for them,” Opalina said of more creative professions such as writing and art.

Prior to relocating, Cliff Notes participated in the Community Education Project (CEP).  The bookstore held 2-hour workshops on Sunday afternoons, taught by various instructors, with subjects including science, writing and “green” practices like recycling.  So far, Cliff Notes’ new location has not hosted any CEP activities, however Opalina hinted that after school started back up and a school-year routine was reinstated, Cliff Notes is interested in continuing its CEP efforts.

Opalina isn’t shy about her fondness for the Oak Cliff community.  “I feel that we are wanted here,” she said, adding that the “creative community is so supportive” of Cliff Notes.  It is very apparent, just from this short interview, that much of the community feels the same way as Opalina.  “I can’t imagine what Oak Cliff would be like without the independent spirit there is here.  That is Oak Cliff.”

For more information about Cliff Notes, call 214-862-3108 or visit the bookstore at 1214 W. Davis in Oak Cliff. 

Images provided by Rosie Lindsey Photography.

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