After some confusion this past weekend regarding a GoFundMe campaign launched to benefit Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores in Minneapolis, owner Don Blyly is now asking people to contribute to the campaign. The effort, now entitled the “Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund, has raised more than $63,000 from 700 donors since it was created four days ago. The goal is to raise $500,000.
Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore and Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore, called the Uncles, are the two indie bookstores destroyed in a fire set last Friday night during the violent protests that rocked the Twin Cities in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer earlier in the week.
Uncle Hugo’s, founded in 1974, was the oldest science fiction bookstore in the country, while Uncle Edgar’s, founded in 1980, was the largest mystery bookstore in the Twin Cities. Both stores sold new and used books.
On Saturday, Alexi Vandenberg, a Wayne, N.J. resident who is the owner of Bard's Tower, which he describes as "a literary celebrity bookstore for pop culture entertainment" launched a fundraising campaign. It raised almost $20,000 within hours before being paused at Blyly’s request.
Vandenberg told PW on Sunday that he had launched the campaign because, he wrote in an email, “I know what it is like to lose everything and have to rebuild. (I have done so twice) and a helping hand is always a good thing. “
On Monday, Vandenberg turned over administration of the GoFundMe page to Blyly’s son, Sam Blyly-Strauss, who now is in charge of it.
“The guy from New Jersey who set up the GoFundMe page without permission was an honest guy just trying to help, but was over-eager,” Blyly wrote, “He transferred the site over to Uncle Hugo's. People no longer need fear that it is a scam from New Jersey.”
In an update posted on the GoFundMe page, Blyly-Strauss writes, “We're still not sure what form any eventual rebuild of the business will take or what the timeline might end up being, but you can all rest assured that any donations to this GoFundMe will reach Don Blyly for use in rebuilding.”