|1070 Broadway West today|
Until September 11th 2005, I had the pleasure of working at my local independent feminist bookstore in Vancouver, BC. I walked in to Women In Print fresh out of a job environment that was sexist and hostile to feminism to say the least. I immediately felt at home at Women In Print – not just because the co-owners welcomed me and made me feel completely at ease, but because it was refreshing to be in a space where being myself was okay and encouraged. In the six years that I worked at Women In Print I made many great friends. I now count co-owners Louise Hager and Carol Dale as two of my closest friends. I could not imagine the last six years without their love, support, encouragement and friendship. I have also had the pleasure of a number of wonderful co-workers, most of whom have remained in my life as friends, even when they have moved on to other endeavours. The customers also became a part of my regular life, some of them visiting once a week for as long as I was there, sharing stories about their families, filling me in on their lives, asking for advice, sharing book suggestions and asking for my help to choose the next book that would fill their lives with joy. Women In Print had been my haven for six years while I struggled through graduate school, first completing an MA and now nearing the end of a Ph.D.. Despite the pressures of grad school life, courses, teaching assistantships, research work and, now, working as a lecturer, I never once thought about quitting the bookstore. I simply couldn't have survived without this wonderful, woman-centred, literary and feminist space to escape to.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I write that Women In Print closed her doors in September 2005 after 12 years. I am heartbroken that my favourite bookstore will no longer be there. I feel very sad that the last women's bookstore in British Columbia has closed. And, I feel angry that, while we had a large amount of regular and loyal supporters, most people don't feel the need to support a feminist bookstore and don't understand its purpose. As Louise and Carol said in their letter to our customers announcing our closing – when Women In Print opened 12 years ago there was still a thriving feminist community in Vancouver. Now, supporters of feminist enterprises, and those still struggling with feminist organizations and businesses, are few and far between. Our resources are stretched to their fullest, our energy is sapped and our morale is low. While we still think it's worth it – we simply can't make it work if the average person sees us but keeps walking on by. Feminism is becoming part of our culture's visible invisibility – you know it's there but you don't really understand why – so you choose to ignore it. The perception that feminism is no longer necessary or valuable is one that makes me angry and so disappointed – it is part of the reason that Women In Print closed, it is part of the reason that there are only a few feminist publishers left, it is part of the reason that feminist jobs are hard to find and that my Ph.D. in Women's Studies may not be worth much in the long run, it is part of the reason that there are only a handful of women's bookstores in North America.
Read the rest here.