I was awakened to the news that the Barnes & Noble in the Bronx is closing it’s doors this year. Overnight, my start-up bookstore/wine bar, The Lit. Bar, just went from a cool idea for a sustainable, social enterprise into a state of literary emergency. While on the surface this news may present itself as cause for me to celebrate, I am deeply saddened–their displacement creates a new set of challenges for me–both professionally and personally.
(I’m totally up for it though. It’s lit.)
I appreciate everyone’s social media comments as it seems The Lit. Bar is a shoo-in for our fallen bookshop, but do not rejoice. The Lit. Bar is set to be a 2,100-2,500 square foot operation 10 miles from Bay Plaza; with over 1.4 million residents and 10 colleges, our borough will remain grossly underserved. Don’t get me started on the message this sends to our children. While I considered them a competitor for business planning purposes, their presence gave me proof of concept for my start-up efforts and would have helped me attract A-list names to the Bronx while they foot the bill, lol.
All [serious] jokes aside, I loved that Barnes & Noble. The threat of its closing 2 years ago is what led me to petition what borrowed time we’ve had–inspiring my bookstore dreams and giving my life greater purpose. No, it wasn’t perfect… it’s a bitch to get to the northeast Bronx without a car (which speaks to most of us); and while they made efforts to serve the special needs of our community, their reach was still very limited by the nature of cookie-cutter corporate policy and design.
But Bay Plaza’s Barnes and Noble was there for our Bronx readers, authors, and children when we needed them. They invested in us as we were–not in the promise of what luxury condos and the likes could bring.
As I’ve become more educated on the topic of displacement, I understand more and more the value of real estate ownership, and I’m rethinking my approach to securing a home for The Lit. Bar so we don’t meet the same fate as our beloved bookstore. While some choose to petition our property owners, politicians, and new businesses for some sense of social responsibility, I can no longer wait around for a third-party to protect us.
I’m opting for a seat at the table; with a little reorganizing of my plan and your continued support, we can bring the table.
Chin up Bronxites,
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.