Yu and Me Books, in New York's Chinatown neighborhood, launched a GoFundMe on July 6, after a fire in a residential unit above the store caused significant smoke and water damage. Within 12 hours, the fundraiser easily surpassed its goal of $150,000, raising nearly $215,000 at the time of this article's publication, with more than 3,500 donors pitching in. Authors Celeste Ng and Vanessa Chan and actor Simu Liu each donated $5,000 to the shop.
The store lost "the majority of our inventory and much of our equipment that makes our day-to-day business possible," the shop's staff said in a collective statement on its GoFundMe page. "Most devastatingly, we've been told that the store will require a complete gut renovation—estimated to take about a year to complete." The store added that "insurance money won't be coming in for at least eight months." Yu & Me will use the money crowdfunded for staff wages and healthcare, creating a pop-up or temporary space, replacing damaged inventory and all technology and POS systems, and more.
The bookstore/café/bar was founded in 2021 by Lucy Yu, then a 27-year-old former chemical engineer and supply chain manager. A woman-owned, Asian American–owned business, it has received an outpouring of support on social media overnight, especially from the Asian American writing community.
Devastated to learn today about the fire that gutted @yuandmebooks. It will take them a year to rebuild—but I believe in them, and that our community will keep them afloat. They’ve given so much to us; now it’s our turn. Please give what you can. https://t.co/vNd1iEkKCL— Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) July 7, 2023
On July 4th, Yu & Me bookstore —the first Asian American woman owned bookstore — had a devastating fire. The store needs to close for a year. Please give and give generously. We’re all in this together. Thank you. https://t.co/LsbXvGdDIX— Min Jin Lee (@minjinlee11) July 7, 2023
please donate to the Yu and Me Books recovery fund! it's going to take about a year to reopen and we cannot lose this gem of a place: https://t.co/wwdyHBGtjA— delia (@delia_cai) July 7, 2023