Veteran Washington D.C. bookseller Angela Maria Spring plans to open a bookstore which she said will be “owned, operated, and managed by a majority of people of color,” in the nation’s capital. To get funding for the project, she has launched a Kickstarter campaign.
Spring announced the initiative April 10, with the goal of raising $9,000 in the next 30 days.
While her Kickstarter has just begun, Spring has already laid the groundwork for the bookstore, which is called Duende District. In late March she opened a popup version of the shop as part of Artomatic 2017, a multi-story arts exhibition that features work by Washington-area artists. When Artomatic closes for the season next month, Spring will try other popup locations while she looks for the right neighborhood for the bookstore’s permanent home.
She is exploring locations with at least 1,000 square feet of retail space and room for showcasing community artists and writers.
Spring, who has spent the last 16 years in bookselling business, was previously a bookseller in New Mexico and New York City before becoming the floor manager at Washington’s Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse.
The current political environment was a factor in her decision to leave Politics and Prose in November, she explained, but so were her longstanding concerns about diversity in the bookselling community nationwide. In particular, she was dismayed by the lack of diversity among bookstore management. She was also bothered by the lack of good literary outlets for minority communities.
A member of the American Booksellers Association’s Diversity Task Force, Spring believes bookstores can better serve minority communities if their staffs are more diverse. One way to accomplish this, Spring believes, is demanding that booksellers radically change their existing stores. “Creation is our best weapon,” she insisted. “The only way to do it is to create new spaces.”
At Duende District, Spring hopes to partner with local non-profits to employ high school students of color. She also intends to use her expertise to provide a collection of books and merchandise that appeal to communities who are often overlooked. The resulting store, she hopes, will be noticeable to patrons right away. This model is also financially sound; she noted that "smaller bookstores with well-defined missions can do very well."
Another comforting sign for Spring has been the local reception the idea for the bookstore has received. “As soon as I talk to [people] about what I’m doing, their faces light up. Especially people of color who come in [to the popup store]."