Amy and Herb Kaplan cut the ribbon during Free Range Pumpkins' grand opening March 20.
Amy and Herb Kaplan cut the ribbon during Free Range Pumpkins' grand opening March 20.
Karen Gavis

New Bookstore Free Range Pumpkins Encompasses Geek Culture

It all began with the idea to sell organic 1-pound pumpkins.

Although Free Range Pumpkins, Arlington’s newest geek culture warehouse, never sold pumpkins, owners Herb and Amy Kaplan sold lots of other stuff through Amazon. Now they’ve opened their first brick-and-mortar store.

A decade ago, it might have been the opposite.

“We ran out of space in our garage, living room, dining room, kitchen — every room was stacked to the ceiling,” Herb says. “In today’s world, it’s e-commerce. And then the question is do you have enough mass, critical mass, to support a brick-and-mortar.”

Across from Diamond J Bail Bonds with a storefront facing Division Street, the warehouse is somewhat of a mesh between a bookstore and a collectible gift shop with images of Batman, Aussie kangaroos and Gudetama, a depressed egg, filling its racks and shelves.

“Those little handbags are extremely popular,” Herb says of the sad, sunny side up character bags. “We have a lot of statues and collectible, limited editions. Geek culture is a lot of what this encompasses.”

Amy, a dual citizen of the United States and Australia, comes from a family of serious gamers, so there’s also a section of graphic novels, comic books and such.

“We’ve been open a few weeks,” Herb says. “And the books are beginning to go. People are very, very interested in them.”

Trying to predict the next hot-selling item is an amazing challenge, Herb says, because the window of opportunity may only last a month or two.

“If you wait, it might be over,” he says. “Or if you hesitate [to buy inventory], it could legitimately be out of stock.”

Free Range Pumpkins started on Amazon about a year ago as Wing and a Prayer Enterprises.

“When we started the company, we knew we were doing it on a wing and a prayer,” Herb says, adding that Amy owns 70 percent of the business.

“I just told him it was mine, and I’m doing 70 percent of the work,” Amy says, laughing.

Free Range Pumpkins, 2205 W. Division St., Suite A1, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays but may soon expand to include a few days during the week. Amy says if she’s there, which is a lot, she’ll let folks inside.

“It’s more gifty than booky,” she says of the warehouse, which she calls sort of a pop culture, hobby and gaming shop.

Amy, a World of Warcraft enthusiast, says games are a wonderful resource for family time, and kids can learn how to read maps through quests while also developing critical-thinking skills.

“I’m a big online gaming geek,” says the 50-year-old internet entrepreneur. “I’m just a geek. Let’s go with that.”

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