A North East native knew she always wanted to return to her hometown after living in a big city. Her calling became clear in 2023, and it's been enhanced ever since.

Erie News Now takes you inside her almost one-year-old store, in this week's Giving You the Business report sponsored by the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership.

This is the view overlooking Gibson Park in downtown North East. It's from inside Tia Book Cellar.

"I had the opportunity to sell there in a farmers market, and it grew from there," said Haas. 

Owner and Northeast High School graduate Kara Haas then started selling new books within a classmate's business in town.

Then her current space became available in July of 2023. Ironically, it's where she had her first job.

"It was a women's and children's clothing store," said Haas. "My boss at the time, he inspired me at the time to go into retail."

And now, he is her landlord.

"I became an accountant and a business consultant for independent retailers," said Haas. 

Kara says she knew she wanted to be a business owner in North East, and now it's a reality.

Helping to foster reading through:

  • Children's books
  • Bestsellers
  • Everything in between
  • Bargain books

The name: Tia, was an inspiration from this book, "The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition."

She says Tia stands for "There Is Always" another path.

Family friend and store general manager, Jill Otto, agrees.

"I was always afraid of reading. I was slow, so I thought I didn't like reading," said Otto. "But the more I read now, as an adult, I do have a love of books."

Located right on Main Street in downtown North East, Tia Book Cellar welcomes customers to come in with food or drink from a neighboring business to sit and enjoy a book inside.

Or even pick up gifts: games and puzzles, even wine-related ones – a homage to the many wine cellars in North East, is also inspiration behind the name to promote hometown pride and a love of reading for all ages.

Tia Book Cellar has brought in regional authors for talks and book signings. Some have come from the suggestion of customers. Additionally, if there's a book not available in store, it can be ordered in.

It's open from Monday through Saturday, with three nights open until 8 p.m.