The world’s oldest surviving LGBTI bookstore, Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, has announced that it is set to move to larger premises next month.
Glad Day opened in 1970, before there was much of an established gay scene in Toronto. Since 1981, it has occupied a small, cramped second floor space on Yonge Street.
Despite the lack of space, it has enjoyed a loyal following who return to browse the books, magazines and comics, or listen to author readings and attend other events.
However, like many other book shops around the world, it has faced tough times in recent years – particularly in the face of online competition from the likes of Amazon.
In 2012, 23 local LGBT community members pooled their resources to buy the store in order to avoid it closing. Since that time, they have continued to face challenges and have consistently dipped into debt each year.
They now believe that a move to larger, multi-functional premises is essential to secure the store’s long-term future.
On Friday, via a posting on its Facebook page, it announced that it is to soon take over Martini bar Byzantium at 499 Church Street. Although just a couple of blocks away from its current home, the premises are in the heart of the city’s gay district.
The premises – three times larger than the current space – will allow the bookshop to expand its range of services. It will offer a café bar during the day and alcohol and performance space in the evenings.
‘We’ll be re-opening as a bookstore-coffee shop-cocktail bar,’ co-owner Michael Erickson told Daily Xtra.
‘The current plan is to have the business operate as a coffee shop and bookstore during the day, and a bar and performance space at night. It may even become a boardgame café a few days a week.
‘I like to imagine that we’re going to create a little bit of a “back to Church” movement. A lot of people have become bored with, or disenfranchised by, the street, and hopefully this can be a cool, queer place that represents the whole community and not just a fraction of it.’
Glad Day has raised around CAN$37,500 ($28,350/€25,820) through a crowdfunding campaign to help fund its relocation, but has only now been able to release details of exactly where it is planning to move.
Unlike the current venue, the new premises will also be wheelchair accessible and have an accessible washroom. There will also be a stage and an outdoor patio.
‘The funds that we’ve received from the community in-store and online has been fantastic,’ Erickson said. ‘The sheer number of backers [on Indiegogo] alone lets us know that we made the right move, and shows us the kind of community support we have.’
Erickson told Daily Xtra he’s expecting the new Glad Day to open in mid-August, subject to the completion of renovation work.
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