Feminist bookstore in East Village turns to crowdfunding for support

For the city’s only feminist bookstore, rising rent has taken its toll. So Bluestockings, one of only 13 feminist-identified bookstores in the U.S. and Canada, turned to crowdfunding to support badly needed repairs.

Within the first week, the bookstore raised a little over $9,000 of its $50,000 goal and has 53 more days to go. The East Village store, which is located at 172 Allen Street and has a workforce made up of about 80 volunteers, will use the money to remodel the storefront and upgrade equipment.

“Independent bookstore browsing and communities are very much a part of the New York City experience,” Sarah Olle, 28, one of the store’s five co-owners, said. “Our technology is really falling apart, and we’re really working tirelessly to keep chugging along despite those hang-ups.”

The bookstore first opened its doors in 1999. The idea of founder and former owner Kathryn Welsh was to bring a woman’s bookstore to the city, but quickly evolved into a hub for activists. The store’s book catalog covers many topics on liberal thought and social justice, from feminism to climate change. At night they host events promoting people’s work and sharing ideas.

Olle said extra funding is not necessarily needed to keep the doors open at the small shop, but the money would help the store thrive and more effectively share its space with the community. The owners don’t see a share of the profits either, Olle said, and all hold a job outside of their work with Bluestockings.

And since the campaign began Olle said she’s seen in increase in customer traffic. Comedian Judah Friedlander, known for his work as Frank on NBC’s “30 Rock,” asked people to support the effort to help the “great activist bookstore” on Twitter.

For the crowdfunding campaign, which was first reported by boweryboogie.com, those who donate $100 or more receive a tote bag, a pin and a 10% discount on non-cafe purchases for six months.

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