Glad Day Bookshop, Canada’s oldest gay bookstore, will live to see another day.
A group of investors announced Feb 8 that they will unite to rescue the Yonge St bookstore from closure – a fate that seemed imminent after owner John Scythes said he was selling the shop earlier this year.
“I really didn’t want to see Glad Day close its doors – it has been, and continues to be, so important to so many people,” Scythes said in a press release. “I’m very happy. I’m trying to hand over the store in good condition, and I’m very busy,” he said in a brief phone call with Xtra.
The sale has not yet been finalized, but the new owners expect to take over in early March. Michael Erickson, a high school English and creative writing teacher, was instrumental in bringing the group together.
“We firmly believe that Glad Day provides a service and books that are not available anywhere else in the world. We hope that with a large group of people willing to put their energy and passion behind the business, we can keep it not only alive, but also growing,” Erickson says. “There’s an opportunity to make it something that it’s never been before.”
The investors include Andy Wang, Doug Kerr, El-Farouk Khaki, Fatima Amarshi, Jonathan Kitchen, Kim Crosby, Lisa Gore, Marcus McCann, Mark Schaan, Michael Erickson, Michael Went, Nat Trembley, Rio Rodriguez, Scott Robins, Spencer Charles Smith, Tessa Duplessis and Troy Jackson.
They have been meeting since the end of December, talking with Scythes, and looking for additional investors for the past month.
Kim Crosby, the co-director of the People Project, an organization that works with queer and trans young people, got involved after Erickson approached her.
“It was very easy to say yes and to figure out whatever I could do to be supportive,” Crosby says.
Crosby says the group intentionally created a shared model in which people in different income brackets could come together as equals. She also says the diversity of the group will be an asset.
“As a queer woman myself, and coming out in Toronto, it was really hard for me to believe it was possible to be queer because I didn’t see anybody that looked like me. There’s an incredible importance in changing what the face of the queer community looks like. Our investors are all very different. There are trans folks, there are queer folks, there are younger ones, there are elders. We very much want to see the population of people coming to the bookstore to really reflect the diversity of Toronto’s population and community, and as well as that of the people who are investing and creating the space,” Crosby says.
“What we’re really excited about is to open the bookstore up to new audiences, without losing its history,” says investor Doug Kerr.
Michael Went adds, “We’re hoping that the bookstore will be more attractive to youth, to diverse communities, multicultural communities, trans communities, the lesbian community. I’m black, so particularly, showcasing Black History Month and black history through a queer perspective at the bookstore.”
“We do have some really amazing, creative plans and some pretty big surprises coming,” says Erickson.
Some of those plans include holding community events that appeal to an intergenerational and intercultural population and making the store (which is located on the second floor) more accessible.
“We really want to draw more and more people into these spaces so we can have more access to our history,” Crosby says.