Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Women & Children First

Women & Children First
Women & Children First 

Location: 5233 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Opened: 1979

Closed: 2013

Women & Children First isn't officially lost yet, but it is certainly in danger, despite the owners' reassurances. 

From the Windy City Times

Longtime feminist bookstore for sale
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times 2013-10-07

There's a "For Sale" sign hanging at Women & Children First, the lesbian-owned bookstore that has been a Chicago fixture for about 34 years ago and in the Andersonville neighborhood since 1990.

The 3,400-square-foot store is "debt-free, and has a great staff, a committed manager, and a dedicated publicist," Women & Children First said in an ad in Bookselling This Week. The store is "in the heart of Andersonville, a thriving neighborhood of indie retailers and restaurants, just north of Wrigley Field. Great community support in a diverse neighborhood. Increased sales in the past two years."

Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon
Linda Bubon, 62, said the decision to sell the bookstore, which she co-owns with Ann Christophersen, 64, has been gradual, something they have been considering for about a year.

"For a while, we were talking with an employee who was interested in taking over the store. Her situation has changed somewhat," thus that will not materialize, Bubon said.

Their for-sale announcement was done around the Heartland Fall Forum, Bubon said. The event was held Oct. 3-5 in Chicago, and is a venue for booksellers, publishers, and all those who work in the bookselling industry to get together to strengthen and celebrate independent bookselling throughout the Greater Midwest, according to the event's website.

"We don't see this as a fast transition," Bubon said. "We really would like to sell the store to like-minded feminists who want to keep it going as a feminist and children's bookstore, appreciate what we've created, the alliances we've made … someone, or multiple owners, who will continue with fresh ideas."

There is no timetable for when a sale has to be completed, Bubon said. "There's no emergency, no crisis. Both of us are just recognizing our limitations, and it's due to nothing but age.

"Both of us still care deeply about the store, and we'd even like to continue working part-time [after selling ownership]. But we'd like to see a younger owner, or owners, so they can take the store into the future."

Bubon said the store has had "small, but significant, increases in sales the last two years."

She did not state the asking-price for the store. 

Bubon confirmed that they will not simply close the bookstore if no new owners are finalized. "I just don't think that's a possibility," she said. "The store is thriving, loved in Andersonville, in the gay community. We have already had several interested parties come forward, and we are meeting with interested parties over the next few weeks.

"I don't think there's any chance that we'd close it."

Nor will they sell to someone not interested in continuing the bookstore.

"Ann and I have talked about this at length, and we're quite on the same page: Women & Children First needs to continue as Women & Children First," Bubon said.

Lynn Mooney has been the manager at Women & Children First since last January, and her role includes training employees, part of the ordering, publicity, and more.

"There isn't a ton of money to be made in book selling, but there is a satisfaction that one has an influence over the next generation. And that satisfaction is something you cannot buy," Bubon said. "There are plenty of people who still want to read physical books [as opposed to reading on a Kindle or similar device.]"

Bubon said, in retirement, she is considering expanding her work on the local theatre scene and maybe also involved in politics, perhaps to lobby for important issues that affect free speech, she said.

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