Posts Tagged ‘glad day bookshop’
We need $15,000 to be able to launch and promote a new website with new tools. The most important new element would be an online bookstore that is independent of the mega-corporations. Your support will make it possible for us to list over 2,000 LGBTQ titles and use a platform that meets our needs. The new site would also have other cool functions like a book review blog, an events calendar and an LGBTQ ‘memory project’.
As investors, we have maxed out our available credit and debt to keep the store open. We don’t have a way to access the money needed to bring the store to the next level. Over this last year, so many people have asked us what they can do to keep the store alive and vibrant so we thought this could be a way to make it possible for all our many allies to show their support by funding something that is practical, concrete and strategic.
[. . .]
If we raise all our funds, it would be broken down like this:
$6000 – Website Design, Customization & Coding
$4000 – Extra Staff Time for Data Entry of +2000 Items
$2500 – Online Promotion
$1500 – Online Store Start-Up Costs & Fees
$1000 – Local Promotion & Launch Event
If we get less funds than our goal, we will reduce the number of items we list and the online promotion.
So far, they’re at C$9,022. I’ll be donating what little I can tonight. You?
Xtra!‘s Michael Lyons writes about the ongoing success of Glad Day, run for a year by a well-financed group of community investors.
[F]or local teacher and activist Michael Erickson, who, along with 21 other community members, purchased the iconic Yonge Street bookshop one year ago, the opportunity to buy the store was a dream waiting to happen. “When we did the call-out for who’d be interested, I think a lot of the owners had always secretly wished that one day they could own a bookstore,” Erickson says. “I think a lot of us fantasized about this.”
Following the closure of New York City’s Oscar Wilde Bookshop in 2009, Glad Day became the world’s oldest queer bookstore, Erickson says. “We spent the past year focusing on sustainability of the store, which I think we’ve done a good job at, but in order for us to survive we have to move to build.”
The next step, he says, is turning Glad Day into an online brand. “We would like to create our own platform to sell books on,” he says. “It would also have a space to list our events coming up. We have some ideas for a community memory project we’d like to post and house on there as well. We also have a book review blog in the works.
“Ideally, it’s the sort of site where people could go on a regular basis, get reviews on books, get connected with the past and hopefully even propose visions and ideas for the future for our community. And buy books.”
There’s online fundraising for this brand at IndieGogo. So far, $792 of a goal of 15 thousand Canadian dollars have been raised. (No, I’ve not yet contributed. Yes, I probably should.)
Since the 2009 closure of the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City, not only has Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop been the oldest extant GLBT bookstore in North America, but New York City has been lacking in such. I was alerted by Towleroad to news that a pop-up GLBT-themed bookstore in Manhattan is crowdsourcing to raise funds for a permanent location in the Lower East Side.
(The Bureau of General Services Queer Division is a nice name.)
The owner-operators do seem to have caught onto the idea that, to survive, an independent bookstore has to offer more than books, with Glad Day’s combination of book space and community space seeming relatively viable. I hope that they succeed.
The Bureau of General Services Queer Division, or BGSQD, has been operating out of 27 Orchard St. since Nov. 15, creating a community through art and literature events aimed at the gay community.
But with the temporary store set to shut down next month, its owners are hoping a fundraising campaign will give the bookstore the initial boost it needs to make the Lower East Side its longtime home.
“This is a space that is open for everyone,” said BGSQD co-owner Greg Newton, 42. “But it is a space dedicated to supporting queers and exploring issues of gender and sexuality.”
BGSQD is working with local crowd-funding site Lucky Ant to raise $15,000 — the equivalent of three months rent for the store — by Dec. 20, while offering donors a range of gifts and perks for their generosity.
[. . .]
Newton and Jochum’s gallery-like space on Orchard Street is stocked with titles such as “Bi-Curious George,” a parody of the classic children’s series, and Sarah Schulman’s “Israel, Palestine and the International Queer,” about how the LGBT community works together from the two sides.
“You stumble across things, you talk to people in the store,” Newton said of the experience at of shopping at BGSQD. “You find things that might not be introduced to you by the algorithms of Amazon.”
The store’s events calendar of poetry and book readings, live music and gallery nights is another important aspect of the business.
“The social spaces for a lot of LBGT people happen to be bars, especially for men,” said Newton, “but they are often loud, not conducive to conversation… they serve a different purpose.”
While Newton was researching the plight of independent bookstores in the city, he found that creating a community space with events was crucial to success in selling books. He pointed to Word in Greenpoint and Greenlight in Fort Greene as community bookstores BGSQD is looking at as a model.
I’ve been meaning for some time to link to Paul Aguirre-Livingston‘s article in The Grid about the ongoing revival of the Glad Day Bookshop. I’ve frequently blogged about the vissicitudes of the place, most recently noting in August (after a blogTO report) the extent to which Glad Day has relaunched as a neighbourhood hub. This bookstore, for so long barely hanging on, seems set to hang on for a while yet.
Almost nine months ago, Glad Day Bookshop, Canada’s first bookstore targeted to the gay community, was about to close its doors—until it was saved by a group of citizen investors. They’ve since turned a chapter in Toronto queer history, making Glad Day a place for very memorable nights.
Last December, when former owner John Scythe announced that the shop would be put up for sale, high-school English teacher Michael Erickson started a campaign to engage friends and allies from every corner of his Toronto network to invest in the project. “Since it’s an institution and an incredible resource for the community, [Erickson] decided that we should save the bookshop,” says Andy Wang, who needed little persuasion to became one of the 22 people (from white collar to creative class) who bought shares in the company. Wang also acts as the shop’s CFO and event booker. Since this re-incarnation, Glad Day has become a fiercely community-driven initiative, says Wang. “Having a lot of people involved is good for having connections all over.” With so much added outreach, the social calendar has become the backbone of its new direction.
[. . .]
Erickson, Wang and co. wanted desperately for the shop to survive, and, in keeping up with the Indigos, the idea of holding events and launches became crucial to the business model. It was a way of enticing new customers to get acquainted with and raise the profile of the shop—fast. Erickson asked the landlord, who was renovating the unused third floor at the time, if the team could rent the space. “It was modelled after our specifications,” Wang proudly explains, as he walks me through Glad Day’s vast collection of everything from thoughtful memoirs to DVDs to vintage erotica.
Upstairs, I overhear a woman say, “Like, what is this? Are we in Trevor’s apartment?”
It’s easy to see why she says that. The result of the renovation was a charming multi-use loft space, with a bathroom, a kitchenette, and glorious hardwood floors. It’s like the most perfect bachelor apartment you’ve ever seen, with standing room for up to 100 guests, making it expansive, yet intimate. And with rentals starting at $20 per hour, it’s a bloody steal. Its availability spread quickly by word-of-mouth. Campbell says he immediately thought of using the space after visiting for a friend’s launch.
Under the new Glad Day collective, the third floor has hosted countless talented minds. The Toronto Gay Gamers (the “Gaymers”) meet here regularly. There was an AIDS Sunset Service, and a night of remembrance upon the passing of Maurice Sendak. During Pride 2012, Glad Day revived the Proud Voices reading series, a program that lasted for three years before it vanished from Pride programming in 2010. There was the debut of the Kickstarter-funded Human Canvas Project. Last Friday night, they hosted the revue-style Loft Cabaret. (Watch a performance below.) The week before that, it was a caBEARet, a night of bear artists and creators.
Readers of this blog might be pleased to know that, earlier this week, news came out that Glad Day Bookshop has been saved, with a group of LGBT community investors purchasing the bookstore from its owners. First, from Xtra!‘s Carolyn Yates.
A group of investors announced Feb 8 that they will unite to rescue the Yonge St bookstore from closure – a fate that seemed imminent after owner John Scythes said he was selling the shop earlier this year.
“I really didn’t want to see Glad Day close its doors – it has been, and continues to be, so important to so many people,” Scythes said in a press release. “I’m very happy. I’m trying to hand over the store in good condition, and I’m very busy,” he said in a brief phone call with Xtra.
The sale has not yet been finalized, but the new owners expect to take over in early March. Michael Erickson, a high school English and creative writing teacher, was instrumental in bringing the group together.
“We firmly believe that Glad Day provides a service and books that are not available anywhere else in the world. We hope that with a large group of people willing to put their energy and passion behind the business, we can keep it not only alive, but also growing,” Erickson says. “There’s an opportunity to make it something that it’s never been before.”
[. . .]
Kim Crosby, the co-director of the People Project, an organization that works with queer and trans young people, got involved after Erickson approached her.
“It was very easy to say yes and to figure out whatever I could do to be supportive,” Crosby says.
Crosby says the group intentionally created a shared model in which people in different income brackets could come together as equals. She also says the diversity of the group will be an asset.
“As a queer woman myself, and coming out in Toronto, it was really hard for me to believe it was possible to be queer because I didn’t see anybody that looked like me. There’s an incredible importance in changing what the face of the queer community looks like. Our investors are all very different. There are trans folks, there are queer folks, there are younger ones, there are elders. We very much want to see the population of people coming to the bookstore to really reflect the diversity of Toronto’s population and community, and as well as that of the people who are investing and creating the space,” Crosby says.
Next, from Torontoist’s Carly Maga:
A group of local Torontonians faithful to the history of the iconic store have banded together to buy the business.
“As individuals, none of us are rich. But collectively, there will be over 20 of us in the end, and we can pull it off,” said Michael Erickson, who spearheaded the purchase, which has yet to be finalized. He wouldn’t disclose the value of the deal.
Erickson is by profession a high-school teacher at Harbord Collegiate, where he specializes in English and Creative Writing, but the rest of the buyers are an eclectic mix of lawyers, government workers, playwrights, musicians, community activists, even former Glad Day employees. Charles Smith, 23, is the group’s youngest investor.
“What unites us is that everyone cares about the preservation and growth of the LGBTQ community, and books and stories are important to us in doing that,” Erickson said, in an interview.
Erickson himself had been a Glad Day patron in the past, but fell out of touch with the store over the years. Like many of his fellow collaborators, just “didn’t get around to it,” but sees this as a second chance to show his loyalty.
“Our task as new owners is to give people a reason to come in and support the future of the bookstore,” he said. The group expects to make a series of announcements in early March. “We’ve got some exciting changes and expansions…that we hope will bring back the golden days of the bookstore as a hub of culture and creativity for the LGBTQ community.”
There’s some controversy over at the Xtra! article about the investors’ group, some commenters concerned about (so far as I can tell) entirely hypothetical connections with anti-porn feminists, others concerned about some of the investors’ membership in the controversial Queers Against Israeli Apartheid group. These are minor points, as far as I am concerned: if this saves Glad Day from the fate of other indie Toronto bookstores of note, for the time being at least, that’s the critical thing.