Nation's Oldest LGBT Bookstore Rescued from Closing
By Connie Wu
Established in 1973 and open for 41 years, Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia has been a resource and refuge for LGBT individuals and movements. Last year, however, owner and co-founder Ed Hermance who has run the store for 38 years announced that Giovanni's Room would have to close since it was incurring losses of $10,000 to $15,000 a year.
"I know that thousands of people have used and cared about this store. It is very emotional for me," said Hermance, following the announcement.
Though the bookstore was set to close in January, patrons convinced Hermance to hold out through the spring. As luck would have it, an interested buyer came forward in the interim looking to take over the business. Since both parties are still drawing up the paperwork, Hermance has opted not to reveal the buyer's name, though some other details are already available.
The store will still carry on as Giovanni's Room, a name inspired by the 1956 James Baldwin novel, and and will remain largely dependent on volunteers as staff. However, the new owner hopes to add significantly more used LGBT books and will introduce a fine furniture department in one of the store's five rooms.
If all goes well, the buyer should take over the lease on August 1, and the modified store should be back in business before the end of fall.