The Little Bookstore That Could

On June 1, Amazon general manager Barb Wieser sent patrons a rather sad e-mail announcing that the 38-year-old institution would close permanently at the end of the month. But Ruta Skujins had other ideas. The Minneapolis resident announced that she will use her retirement savings to buy the store and keep its current location (see full text of the letter announcing the close and Skujins' takeover below.) After surviving the invasion of chain bookstores, weathering the shift toward digital media, and body-slamming with a lawsuit, did you honestly expect anything else?

Here's the closing announcement, sent out on June 1:

Amazon Bookstore, the oldest continuing feminist bookstore in the world, is closing its doors at the end of June. For almost 38 years, Amazon Bookstore has been part of a proud tradition of independent bookselling in the Twin Cities and feminist bookselling across the country. Started by two women on the front porch of a living collective in 1970, Amazon grew to be vibrant feminist and GLBT oriented bookstore, hosting author events such as Annie Leibovitz, Gloria Steinem, Rebecca Walker, Ani DiFranco; providing a home for book groups, workshops, and classes; a space for local artists, musicians, and writers. Amazon has always been more than a bookstore—it became a place where women, especially lesbians--could find their lives reflected back to them. In recent years, Amazon has served the broader community of GLBT folks and their allies; of progressive people looking for current political writing; of neighborhood folks looking for a NY Times bestseller or a book for their child.

Unfortunately, with the changing economy of bookselling, Amazon Bookstore, like many independents, has struggled to keep up with the proliferation of chains and online mega-retailers. In the last few months, the cooperative owners tried to sell the store but were unsuccessful and decided to close the store at the end of June. There will be month long going out of business sales. Starting Saturday, May 30th, everything in the store will be 20% off. For more information, please contact:

Barb Wieser, General Manager and co-owner Amazon Bookstore Cooperative

Just for kicks, here's video of local poet Leigh Herrick reading some of her work at Amazon:

And here's Skujins' announcement:

I don’t know how many of you heard that a few weeks ago Amazon Bookstore in Minneapolis, the oldest feminist bookstore in the country, announced it was closing at the end of June.

I am very excited to tell you that I acquired Amazon Bookstore on Thursday, and we will NOT be closing! I have great plans for the store, and hope to be able to return it to its glory. In fact, I have such confidence in the potential of the store that I am using my retirement funds for this.

I’d invite you to visit our website, but it was taken down in anticipation of the closing, and will take a few days to bring back up. I just talked with the landlord Thursday and he took down the ‘For Lease’ signs Friday morning. The store stock is depleted because of the going out of business sale, and future events have been cancelled, so I’ve a lot to do to bring it back up.

I hope to be able to lure many authors to the Twin Cities for readings; Amazon has a great event space downstairs that is also available for bookgroups.

Please stop by the store if you can - parking isn’t a problem. We’re at 48th and Chicago Ave S, right across from Turtle Bread. I don’t know yet if we have it in stock, but if you haven’t read “Hard Road, Easy Riding: An Anthology of Lesbian Biker Erotica,” you might want to pick up a copy! We are still working out all of the details of the transition. I know I’m going to be busy as heck, but I’ve now accomplished two of my childhood dreams - to be an editor, and to own a bookstore!

Ruta Skujins President, Amazon Bookstore

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