Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop plans to expand like its life depends on it — and it kind of does.
Michael Erickson is one of the 23 owners who bought the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookstore in 2012 to save it from impending closure.
“We’ve been really building, I think, a meaningful, relevant and important place in the queer and trans culture in Toronto that I think was missing beforehand,” he says.
In the fall of 2015, Glad Day began the Naked Heart LGBTQ literary festival — the largest event of its kind in the world. Erickson also says that book sales have increased by 30 percent in the last four years.
But it just hasn’t been enough — financially, anyway — and they’re looking to move out of the Yonge Street location, where the store has been since 1981. “We’re still struggling to make the basics of payroll and rent,” he says. “That means we need new revenue streams, and to have new revenue streams we need a new, larger space.”
They’ve looked at a variety of locations, but one option stands out: a rental spot on Church Street (they can’t reveal the precise location until the deal is finalized) which, according to Erickson, seems the most feasible choice.
It’s wheelchair accessible (the lack of accessibility of the current location has been a sticking point with the owners since they first acquired the business), larger than the current location, and has an outdoor patio. Tentatively, the plan is to make it a bookstore and coffee shop in the day and bar and event space in the evening.
Any move will be an expensive prospect, but to nab this particular location they need to raise a lot of cash and fast. “We have kind of a perfect space available to us on Church Street,” he says. “But it has a timeframe where we need to get the money together and close the deal, so we’re working toward that.”
Fundraising has already begun in earnest. Glad Day launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign on Thursday, June 9, 2016. “We’re hoping to crowdfund $50,000, we’ll probably borrow $120,000, and then we’ll raise $50,000 from the current owners and some new owners,” Erickson says. “But the more we can raise from the crowdfunding, the less we have to borrow.” Glad Day is also looking for “angel investors” (people willing to lend money at low or no interest rates).
So far, it looks promising. Within the first 10 hours, the store had raised $3,000 toward the goal.
While Erickson can’t reveal when the exact deadline by which they need to raise the funds and close the deal, it’s clear that time is of the essence. The crowdfunding campaign’s one-month lifespan provides some clue as to the urgency.
Pulling this off seems like a Herculean feat. “But I think an inclusive, cool coffee shop on Church Street that sells books — that sounds like a winner to me,” he says.”A lot of new places opening on Church are big chains, so having an independently-owned — a queer and trans-owned — establishment is important to keep the village relevant, alive and sexy.”