Staff -- 11/13/00
More New England Good News | New Words Live Awarded $75,000 Grant
Ho-Ho-Holiday Hours Addendum | Jade Creek Opens in Ft. Collins
More New England Good NewsTwo weeks ago, we noted the recent upswing of good news coming from booksellers in the New England area. Since then, we've heard a few more .
The 25-year-old UConn Co-op in Storrs, Conn., one of the few remaining membership-owned and -managed college bookstores in the country, is celebrating its birthday with a brand-new store. As part of changes at the university, the Co-op's current location will revert to the school. This past summer, the Co-op broke ground for a two-story, 53,000-sq.-ft. brick building, which will be attached to a parking garage. According to Suzy Staubach, manager of general books, "The new store is supposed to be finished in May or June. We'll have a nice events space and a cafÃ©. We're working hard on ambiance. Upstairs will be textbooks and a bank. We'll also sell computers and clothing."
New Words Live Awarded $75,000 GrantNew Words Live, the nonprofit sister organization of New Words in Cambridge, Mass., one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the country, has just been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. New Words Live, which produces the reading series at New Words as well as other educational and cultural programming, hopes to use the money not only to analyze the role that it serves in women's lives, but to reexamine the resources that women's bookstores offer their constituencies in general.
According to Gilda Bruckman, a founding member of New Words in 1974 and president of both New Words and New Words Live, "The largest piece of this grant is going to strategic planning. This is a time of enormous flux. We see our mission as broader than basic retail. We feel very committed to the cultural side of what the bookstore represents. For me, the exciting part of this project is to take a long, hard look at the needs of our community."
Bruckman hopes that the grant will help New Words Live find a solution to the paradox that it, along with many other women's bookstores, faces. While the retail side of the business is holding steady or declining only slightly, a number of women have voiced their strong sentimental attachment to the store and its contribution to women's cultural life.
Joni Seager, a former member of the bookstore collective who is co-directing the Ford project with Bruckman, is concerned about what she regards as "the whole corporate homogenization of life. The places for alternatives are shrinking. We need to pause and take stock of the cultural role of feminist bookstores." Although she is reluctant to predict what the ultimate model will be, she notes that the current retail system, where book sales enable feminist bookstores to provide cultural programming, is not working. One model among several that New Words Live will explore, with the help of consultants, might involve more of a museum-style approach, with a cultural space and less retail.
For other members of FBN, the grant is also an affirmation and potential aid in their work. "To have some sort of model for what a feminist bookstore is and d s will be reinforcing for those of us who've been doing it for 25 years and for those who want to open a bookstore," commented Mary Ellen Kavanaugh, owner of My Sisters' Words in Syracuse, N.Y., and a member of the FBN steering committee.
Steering committee member Linda Bubon, co-owner of Women & Children's First in Chicago, called the impact of the year-long grant project "potentially huge. It's a matter of restructuring and re-envisioning how we can be sustainable."
Jade Creek Opens in Ft. Collins
When the Stone Lion bookstore in Ft. Collins, Colo., closed last March after nearly 20 years, the loss was felt throughout the community. Even the local bank loan officer was vocal in her reaction, telling local residents Ellen Eagleson and Paula Murray, "I don't want to shop at a chain bookstore." Which is partially why she made sure that Eagleson and Murray were able to secure all the financial assistance they needed to create Jade Creek Books.
Eagleson and Murray met while working at Stone Lion, and both are veteran booksellers with 30 years of collective experience in management and buying. According to Lisa Knudsen, executive director of the MPBA, both are known for their industry expertise. "The determination and vision they have shown in putting this store together is amazing," Knudsen told PW. "We in Colorado are predicting universal jubilation when this store opens."
All parties agree that Ft. Collins can and will support an independent bookstore. "There is an enormous group of well-educated people here who are voracious and adventurous readers, willing to try anything," Murray told PW. "Our population is growing and there is only one Barnes & Noble--and it's on the other side of town."
The two owners will initially employ one or two part-timers. Right now, the owners are facing the imminent delivery of hundreds of cartons of books, with what they describe as "alternating waves of anxiety and delight."
--Barbara R ther
Volume 246 Issue 46 11/13/2000