Brick by brick, After Stonewall’s new owner, Michael Deyell, is hoping to transform Ottawa’s struggling queer bookstore into a multifaceted centre for art and literature.
Deyell says keeping queer literature alive is his top priority.
“That’s the main focus of the literature side of the business. We’re going to keep GLBT literature alive and expand on it,” he says. “There’s only three GLBT bookstores in Canada. David’s had it for 22 years, and I think it needs to thrive for another 22 or even 44 years.”
Rimmer plans to assist Deyell with future book launches and readings from local queer writers. He says he’s looking forward to the future and is in awe of After Stonewall’s metamorphosis.
“I think it’s fabulous, absolutely fabulous,” Rimmer says. “It’s gorgeous. I can’t believe the quality of the stuff he’s brought in.”
Deyell says the most challenging part of the month-long renovation was “creating an open concept and tying in the different elements of the whole art for everyday living concept.”
Shelves of locally sourced jewellery, glassware and functional art now line the front of the store, while the literature section is located near the back and features comfortable chairs, giving the area a friendly, library-like feel.
The store will also occasionally showcase Prince Edward County wines that shoppers can sample at special events.
The basement of the store will undergo further renovations until spring. Deyell says he plans to host yoga classes and fine-art showings in the subterranean space when it’s ready.
The initial reaction from the community is largely positive. Hilary Seymour and Ashley McConnell stopped in to scope out the store Jan 24, and both said it was the handmade art that caught their eyes.
“It’s a nice addition to this neighbourhood,” McConnell says. “To have something that is local and commercial that’s not another bar or restaurant.”
Deyell says he is impressed by the outpouring of support from the community.
“There’s been a lot of people who have come into the business that normally haven’t come in,” he says. “The community has been amazing; the business owners have been very welcoming.”
Profitability is a constant struggle for any business and especially an independent queer bookstore
. Deyell hopes that by listening to what Ottawa’s queer community wants he can ensure After Stonewall’s success.
Rimmer opened Ottawa’s only queer bookstore in 1990 and ran it for more than two decades before selling it to Deyell in December 2012.
“After Stonewall wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for David and all the amazing work he’s done,” Deyell says.
After Stonewall grand opening
Sat, Jan 26
370 Bank St