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Westsider Books will remain open after GoFundMe hits its goal in 5 days

Westsider Rare & Used Books, at 2246 Broadway, will remain open after a GoFundMe campaign raised $52,000 in just five days.   Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

“The owners are very, very grateful … and bowled over.”

Westsider Rare & Used Books, at 2246 Broadway, will remain open after a GoFundMe campaign raised $52,000 in just five days.  
Westsider Rare & Used Books, at 2246 Broadway, will remain open after a GoFundMe campaign raised $52,000 in just five days.   Photo Credit: Aquarius

Westsider Rare & Used Books will live to see another day.

The shop at Broadway and West 80th Street planned to shut its doors in just a few weeks, but New Yorkers had a different idea.

Through a Gofundme page set up by Upper West Sider Bobby Panza, locals and fans across the world raised almost $52,000 to help the shop pay off its back rent and keep the doors open. 

“I’m speechless,” co-owner Dorian Thornley told amNewYork. “The owners are very, very grateful … and bowled over.”

The shop, which has been around for 35 years, announced a closing sale on Jan. 14. Panza immediately started fundraising after speaking with Thornley.

Westsider Rare & Used Books, shown in 2016, had planned to close in several weeks due to financial concerns.
Westsider Rare & Used Books, shown in 2016, had planned to close in several weeks due to financial concerns. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

In just five days, 791 people raised the entire $50,000 goal (and then some) that will go toward paying all the back rent the book shop owed.

Thornley declined to say how much rent is each month, but said that it is on par with the Upper West Side real estate market.

“Into the second day of the crowd-funder [we realized we didn’t have to close],” Thornley said. “It looked like we had weeks until we said we were going to close and the fundraiser was shooting up and up and it looked like we would make it by day three or four.”

Thornley said he and his co-owner Bryan Gonzalez saw donations ranging from $5 to $1,000.

The two did not fully anticipate the affection people had for the shop, but he knows those who helped also were motivated out of a sense of outrage that another neighborhood staple was closing, Thornley said.

“It’s one of the last bookstores and people are tired of walking by these empty storefronts that used to contain places they really liked that went out of business,” he said.

Supporter Kimberly Grieger echoed the “fed up” sentiment on the GoFundMe page.

“I love this shop, and NYC needs wonderful used bookshops! So tired of soulless chain stores and empty storefronts while the interesting small businesses that make New York sing go under. Best of luck and I’ll be in soon,” she wrote.

The $52,000 also will go toward a new advertising plan and the purchase of books — because “that’s what we’re known for” — to help pay rent going forward, Thornley said.

“We are going to have some sort of celebration or grand reopening.”

Panza and the owners will take the “store closing” signs down together on Monday afternoon.

On his Facebook page, Panza expressed his gratitude:

“Thank you to everyone who contributed in any way. This has lifted the spirits of Dorian, his team and the community at large. Warms my heart.”

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