Black Garnet in St. Paul, the first and only bricks-and-mortar Black-owned bookstore specializing in books by BIPOC authors established in the Minnesota capital is on the market. Owner Dionne Sims announced on social media on the eve of Juneteenth that she is selling the store, which opened in St. Paul’s Midway area two years ago, so that she can go back to school and earn an M.F.A.

“I’ve always loved to write, both personally and professionally,” she wrote. “I do it every day and I want to go back to school to take my craft to another place—a braver place—than I could do on my own.” Sims added that she is selling the store because, she wrote, “I refuse to half-ass running Black Garnet or half-ass my schooling.”

In the post, Sims described how she built Black Garnet into a successful bricks-and-mortar store with a 2,000-title opening inventory: “From absolutely nothing, except an idea turned tweet, turned GoFundMe, turned pop-up, turned bricks-and-mortar.” Sims is one of a number of BIPOC entrepreneurs around the country who opened bookstores in the wake of the May 25, 2020, murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Speaking to PW in 2023, Sims said that, after Floyd's murder, she had an “existential crisis” and quit her corporate job in the technology sector to better serve the Black community in the Twin Cities. By July 2020, she had launched an online bookstore with occasional pop-ups around Minneapolis. Black Garnet opened its 1,800-sq.-ft. physical location in the fall of 2022 with the assistance of the City of St. Paul, which gave her a $100,000 matching grant after she had raised $113,000. The store sells fiction and nonfiction for adults and children, and boasts a large young adult fiction section.

“Black Garnet is the manifestation of so many things that are bigger than me,” Sims wrote. “Bigger than the very simple dream I had of making sure that there’s always a Black-owned bookstore in my home of Minnesota.”