Trident Booksellers & Cafe was opened in Boston in the fall of 1984 at 338 Newbury Street by Bernie and Gail Flynn. They moved to the Boston area in 1983 from Vermont where Bernie owned a bookstore. That store was started in 1976 at the end of the "hippie turned back-to-the-land, turned Buddhist, turned entrepreneur" sort of era. The immediate motivation for opening a business in Boston was the birth of a son and the concurrent realization that making a living was not optional. The bookstore-cafe idea took shape because at that time in Boston there were very few places to sit down with a fine cup of coffee and linger over a conversation or a book. There were grand ideas and very little capital and a location that was considered the wrong end of Newbury Street at the time. A mixed beginning at best. Now, nearly 40 years later, “The Trident” as we all call it is still alive and fully established. We are fortunate to be considered a vital part of the culture of Back Bay and the Boston area in general.
Trident has always been a family business nurtured by Buddhist ideals. Basically, that means making a living while causing the least amount of harm possible, preferably by providing something that is a benefit to others.
This is not so easy since we exist in a capitalistic society where the accumulation of money is the basic motivation. Our landlord wants more money every year, the payroll and benefits cost more every year, and compliance with mandates and rules and regulations get more complex and costly every year. The competition generally has more money and would like to "take a larger share of the market," a business euphemism for making other stores go out of business.
So the question is how can a small "Mom and Pop" bricks and mortar store in a high-rent urban center survive in the face of big monopolistic business competition and at the same time remain true to the principles of right livelihood? The simple answer is You, the customer because if you appreciate what we do and what we offer, you will come back and hopefully make the Trident part of your life.
The deeper answer is for us to stay open to you, our customers, work really hard, take the necessary risks, and continually change with the culture. At the Trident we strive to create an atmosphere of openness and genuineness. A place where people are welcomed and they can be themselves with dignity.
The Next Chapter
Trident isn’t ever static. It’s the people who work here who provide the ever-changing but essential social interactions, which are a fundamental reason to shop and eat in an independent brick-and-mortar bookstore cafe.
In recent years the original owners have stepped away from everyday management and the Trident is now run by the next generation of our family. It’s still a family business, but now it’s led by our daughter Courtney and our daughter-in-law Kim. A fierce female duo, Courtney and Kim are charging ahead to lead the Trident's continued success and explore new opportunities for growth. And, we cannot speak about Trident's success without mentioning our long-standing general manager Michael and cafe director Megan. They have been in the trenches with us for over a decade and, in partnership with Courtney and Kim, will help write the next chapter in our story.