Gary Schulze, co-owner until last last month of Minneapolis's Once Upon a Crime Bookstore, died on Wednesday afternoon of leukemia. Schulze, who was 66, passed away just a week after selling the store.
Once Upon a Crime, which Schulze ran with his wife, Pat Frovarp, for 14 years, celebrated its 29th anniversary earlier this year. The couple sold the store to Dennis Abraham, Meg King-Abraham, and Devin Abraham, recent transplants to Minneapolis who had approached Schulze and Frovarp last fall, after hearing the store was on the block.
Schulze met Frovarp at the store in the '90s, when she was working there and he was still just a customer. Schulze and Frovarp then bought the store in 2002. Five years later, on the same day they became owners of the shop, they were married inside the bookstore.
Despite its basement location in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood, Once Upon a Crime, which received a Raven Award from the Mystery Writers Association in 2011 for excellent in bookselling, was a fixture in the Twin Cities’ vibrant literary community. Not only did it regularly host appearances by bestselling mystery and crime authors, it also held events for local luminaries like William Kent Krueger and Brian Freeman.
The bookstore hosted, for a decade, an annual “Write of Spring” celebration of local mystery and crime authors, during which dozens of writers would come and spend the afternoon reading one after the other; 98 authors participated in the event total. In 2012, in honor of Write of Spring’s 10th and final anniversary, as well as the store's 25th anniversary of its founding in 1987, Nodin Press published Writes of Spring, an anthology of short fiction by 34 contributors who had participated in Write of Spring; it was edited by Schulze and Frovarp and included tributes to them by several of the contributors.
Devin Abraham, one of Once Upon a Crime's three new co-owners, said she was shocked about Schulze's death, but added she was relieved that Frovarp “wasn’t going to have to do this all by herself.” Two years ago, when Schulze underwent a bone marrow operation, a group of customers worked shifts at the store to help Frovarp during Schulze’s convalescence.
No services have yet been planned, per Schulze's expressed wishes, Abraham said.