Louisa Solano, owner of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge, Mass., a 404-square-foot poetry-only bookstore that has been a mecca for poets since its founding in 1927, admits that she probably should close the store. "The economy of the bookstore has been dreadful," she said. "I haven't paid myself since September 2002."
But she vows to keep the store open. "I'm stubborn, and I'm determined," she told PW. "I'll just keep cutting back on my life."
Solano, who has been forced to dip into her IRA and her credit card to pay bills in the past, netted $5,000 from a 75th-anniversary benefit reading sponsored by the Poetry Society of America in September 2002; a piano recital this fall raised $6,000. With the recent infusion of cash, Solano paid off most of her back rent and now owes about a month and a half. At the same time, her store has been the target of a shoplifting ring that stole $3,400 worth of books, and she is on credit hold with a number of publishers.
Since word got out about Grolier's financial difficulties, some customers have stepped forward and placed large orders. Two potential buyers opened negotiations this winter to purchase the store, "There's been no money mentioned," said Solano. "I don't want to sell. People say to me, 'What do you want to do?' and I just blank out. I want to stay here."
Solano is looking into ways to re-create the store, which was a favorite of e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot and Marianne Moore when it first opened and is now frequented by Robert Creeley, Donald Hall and Marie Howe. Solano can be reached at email@example.com.