Black Garnet Books Opening Physical Store in St. Paul; Making Impact with 1619 Project Book Drive
Black Garnet Books, a Black-, woman-owned business that has been selling books online and through pop-up locations in the Twin Cities for more than a year, "has found a space of its own" on University Avenue West in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, Mpls.St.Paul magazine reported. Founder Dionne Sims said renovations are starting in February and she expects the shop to open in late summer 2022.
Councilmember Mitra Jalali's office recently awarded Sims and Black Garnet Books a $100,000 Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) grant to renovate and open the physical store.
Sims, who has been scouting possible locations since last January, said finding a space that checked all the boxes--close to public transit, ADA accessible, with a parking lot and the ideal size--had posed a challenge. "The STAR grant really cemented my ability to be in that space and to be able to afford to be in that space," she noted, adding that the location will be on the ground floor of the Hamline Station apartments, across from the Midway light-rail station and Target.
Black Garnet Books' website notes: "Our shelves primarily stock Adult and YA contemporary literature by Black and racially-diverse authors. We're incredibly excited to introduce everyone to underrepresented voices and stories, new and old, that support and affirm the cultures they're connected to."
Sims also launched a book drive in November to donate copies of The 1619 Project to Twin Cities schools. The Bookshop.org initiative allows independent bookstores across the U.S. to donate copies of the book to local organizations such as schools, libraries and other educational and community organizations. Sims had announced her participation by posting a tweet and an Instagram grid post. Through retweets, Instagram stories and reposts (including a retweet from the author herself), as well as word of mouth, the initiative spread. Black garnet Books has since donated more than 760 copies in the Twin Cities region, becoming the most successful Bookshop.org 1619 book drive in the country.
Bookshop.org CEO Andy Hunter said: "We are proud of the work Black Garnet Books and many other bookstores have done through our partnership with The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. Their success is a testament to what happens when you are genuine about your cause, and the good that can come of booksellers' deep connection with their local communities. We hope many more Bookshop.org customers will take part in our donations initiatives during the holidays, supporting both independent bookstores and educational organizations across the U.S."
Sims added: "What's been really cool about this book drive is seeing how excited people--parents, teachers, and community members--have been about providing youth with the kind of educational material we didn't have at their ages. Obviously, it's also really cool to support an indie bookstore in the process, but I'm mostly seeing the focus being on the importance of accurate American history being taught in our schools. I wouldn't be able to do a book drive of this magnitude without help and support, so I'm seriously so grateful to Bookshop.org, One World, and, of course, Nikole Hannah-Jones for making it possible for my community to do this for our schools."