In a rare bit of good news for independent bookstores, money-troubled LGBTQ landmark Glad Day Bookshop has found a group of loyal buyers from the community.
Sad faces abounded last December when John Scythe, owner of Glad Day Bookshop, announced that low sales had forced him to put the beloved LGBTQ book store up for sale. Today, an announcement turned those frowns upside down. 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.”
One such project will be Books on Wheels, Erickson said, which will allow Glad Day volunteers to transport a selection of books to anyone physically unable to make it into the store’s second floor location.
And while Scythes will no longer be an owner of the shop, Erickson said “he has been really clear he’ll always be available to for advice and mentorship.”
So far, 2012 hasn’t been kind to independent bookstores, but Erickson says keeping them alive is something worthy of his time and money.
“We think that a lot of people don’t see themselves in the collections in chain stores. Glad Day was a place to go to hear about stories no one else was talking about,” he said. “We want to be that place still.”