Independent bookstores are a dying breed. An especially vulnerable strain of independent seller is the LGBTQ-specific shop. Bureau of General Services–Queer Division, the only LGBTQ-exclusive bookstore left in Manhattan, has to vacate it current digs by August 31, and its owners need to raise $50,000 in the next 50 days to find new ones.
Proprietors of BGSQD have rented the Strange Loop Gallery in the Lower East Side since last November.
“Minister of Propaganda” Greg Newton and his partner, “Minister of the Interior and the Exterior” Donnie Jochum, set up shop to address a critical need: the absolute dearth of queer-focused bookstores in Manhattan.
As their Indiegogo video notes, BGSQD was born to fill the vacuum left by the closing of two of Manhattan’s iconic LGBTQ-specific bookstores and community spaces, the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore and the New York branch of A Different Light, which shuttered more than a decade ago.
Newton and Jochum transformed the BGSQD into a dynamic community and cultural space, and intend to continue serving the LGBTQ community from a new location in the Lower East Side. That is, if they can raise the $50,000 they need open the new spot.
Crowd-funding was the logical choice for drumming up the money after the reception it received from patrons, says Newton.
“So many people have been involved in this project that we feel it makes sense for them to invest in it financially and take ownership of it,” wrote Newton in an e-mail to Runnin’ Scared. “When people contribute to a community project like the Bureau they become more invested in it, and that’s important for it to grow and sustain itself.”
The choice to use Indiegogo instead of Kickstarter was also in the name of cultivating community, says Newton, because it helps to stem the takeover of independent booksellers by corporate invaders into the industry. “Kickstarter contributions are handled by Amazon, and Amazon is not only the enemy of independent bookstores, but of all small, independent businesses. So that was never an option.”
At this writing the campaign has raised just over $4,400 with 47 days left on the clock.