The new year is set to usher in a new chapter for After Stonewall. Current owner David Rimmer has sold Ottawa’s only queer bookstore after months of seeking a buyer.
Rimmer founded the business in 1990 and says he’s pleased with the deal that will keep the store at 370 Bank St open.
“It’s the best possible solution,” he says.
Rimmer first opened the business in a Fourth Avenue basement, and it grew to become an Ottawa institution. He says he will always remember the friendships he made through the store.
“It sounds hokey as all hell,” he says when asked what he’ll take away from his years at After Stonewall. “[It’s] all the wonderful friends that I’ve made over the years.”
Rimmer is looking forward to volunteering for animal rights-related causes and having more time to read, but he won’t be putting After Stonewall on the shelf. He will continue to be involved with the business as a consultant and will also host special events.
New owner Michael Deyell says he is looking forward to working with Rimmer.
“He’s been part of the community for many years,” Deyell says. “After Stonewall wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for David and all the amazing work he’s done.”
Originally from Ottawa, Deyell now lives in Prince Edward County, where he operates a number of businesses, including Funktional Art and Design (FAD), a social media site and a travel site that caters to adventurous queers.
“I wear many hats. I’m looking forward to blending all of that into After Stonewall in 2013,” he says.
Formerly employed at the National Gallery of Canada, he says he wants to transform After Stonewall into an artistic oasis with glassware, pottery, textiles, jewellery and visual art created by local artists.
But queer literature will remain the focus. “Keeping GLBT literature alive is very important,” he says. “There’s a very large following in Ottawa.”
Keeping a bookstore profitable is a constant struggle, so Deyell says he plans to use the community as an index and cater to its specific needs.
“I’m going to listen to the public,” he says. “David has already started a preferred client card [system] for me, gathering information for what people are looking for. I want to create a safe, welcoming and fun environment for the community.”
If renovations go as planned, he says, the grand opening event will be Jan 26, although the store may be open before that. Rimmer’s final day as After Stonewall’s operator is Dec 26, after which the store will close until the reopening.To keep up to date on After Stonewall’s transformation, like the store’s Facebook page.