Posts Tagged ‘popular literature’
I will have to keep out an eye for Flying Books. The National Post‘s Michael Melgaard writes about this project.
“We’re not actually in Flying Books,” Martha Sharpe explains from behind the counter of the Weekend Variety, a general store/gift shop/artsy curiosity emporium on Toronto’s Queen West. “We’re not there until we’re standing in front of the shelf.”
The shelf that constitutes Sharpe’s Flying Books is topped with the company logo (Amelia Earhart, as drawn by author and illustrator Leanne Shapton), below which are a half-dozen titles, all face out, with small, handwritten notes detailing their merits. The one accompanying Max Porter’s Grief Is the Thing with Feathers lets curious shoppers know that the book won the 2016 Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers, briefly outlines what readers can expect from it, and closes with, “Sad, but very worth it.”
[. . .]
The challenge facing any bookseller is that books are sold on tight margins, and while the cost of books has stayed relatively level over the past decade, the cost of renting retail space has gone up significantly. Staying open has proven too costly for many, and likewise, starting fresh with a large outlay of money was off the table for Sharpe. “I didn’t have a huge wad of cash to throw down for a commercial lease,” she explains.
So Sharpe decided that a small, “choosily chosen” selection of a half-dozen or so books tucked inside another retail space was a safer – and inventive – way to start. She pitched the idea to Queen West gallerist Katharine Mulherin, who gave Sharpe some space inside her Weekend Variety store.
Inspired by Amelia Earhart (who fell in love with aviation in Toronto while working as a nurse’s aid), the venture was named Flying Books, which coincidently fit into calling her selections “flights” – a term for a sampling of wines. On August 22, 2015, Sharpe “threw on her flying goggles and flew in,” uncertain if the project would work. “But the books sold quickly and people keep coming back,” she says, enough so that by February 2016, she had snuck shelves into three more locations: Northwood General Store on Bloor, The Gladstone Hotel, and Ezra’s Pound, a coffee shop on Dupont.
Daily Xtra‘s Jeremy Willard describes how two queer Ottawa businesses are resorting to crowdfunding to stay alive.
For the owners of After Stonewall and Wilde’s, it has never been just about the money. It’s about helping sustain queer culture in Ottawa — and now they’re asking for help to keep their businesses alive.
“This hasn’t been a great year, business-wise, along Bank Street. It’s not just us,” says Trevor Prevost, owner of Wilde’s. “You sort of have to look ahead six months in retail and say, ‘okay, can I continue this way or not?’ And right now we can’t.”
As with many queer businesses before them (most of which were small businesses), the bills have become more than they can handle. So they’re running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to merge the two stores, which will reduce overhead costs and provide more opportunity for collaboration and growth.
Prevost bought Wilde’s late in 2015, and Michael Deyell bought After Stonewall in 2012. They each had plans for their respective new businesses, but it was never just about making money.
It’s also about preserving two of Ottawa’s oldest surviving queer businesses — After Stonewall opened in 1990, and Wilde’s in 1993 — and about supporting local queer culture in other ways.
“When I took over the store, we really wanted to promote the area — we wanted to promote the Village,” Prevost says. ”Because people keep talking about places where the villages have gotten sketchy, and rough as well.”
“Being a business owner in the community we sort of have a louder voice and can do things.”
After Stonewall sells queer books and Canadian art, and Wilde’s is a sex shop. The two stores also sell tickets for local events, and After Stonewall hosts book launches and art exhibits, and throws occasional fundraisers.