Saturday, November 12, 2011

Aradia Bookstore

Aradia Bookstore
Aradia Bookstore - New Age and Feminist Books

Location: 116 West Cottage Avenue, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

Opened: 1979

Closed: May 2008

Aradia's owner, Martha Shideler (2007)
Here's how Aradia Bookstore presented herself:

Aradia, Flagstaff's oldest bookstore, has served the local community for 28 years.  As Flagstaff's last full-service independent bookstore, we carry books by local authors and are committed to representing Flagstaff's racial, ethnic, sexual, and political minorities.  We promote cooperation rather than competition.

We believe in peace, nonviolence, environmental, and social responsibility.  While it is necessary to make money just to stay in business in this society, we do not want to do so at the expense of social, environmental, and political concerns.

Aradia's customer reviews appear to be uniformly positive and enthusiastic. Here are two from yahoo:

So happy to find alternative books in Flag when I travel Rt40. Need to stock more chapter books for my granddaughters, please e.g. Gaia Girls: Enter the Earth. Lotsa Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter; we need chick power. Other than that, you have all the books I want to read, gentle atmosphere (unlike the vortex down the road...)

This is a fun place to poke around in--many nooks and crannies--lots of "alternative" books--holistic health, feminist, Celtic, 12-step recovery--and there's always bagpipe music-live or on CD! They'll special order anything and get it quick.

And yet Aradia still fell prey to the same maladies affecting all the independent bookstores. Mary Soujourner explains:

In 2003, I was bookstore-sitting in Aradia Books in Flagstaff, Arizona for my friend Martha Shideler.  I sat for hours alone at the big front desk.  No customers came in.  The big box and on-line book dealers had already seduced too many of Aradia's former customers - it is more accurate to say that those readers had allowed themselves to be lured away. I put books back on the shelves, straightened up CD's and washed dishes left over from my writing circle the night before.

I was bored and more than a little angry.  I remembered when Aradia had been bustling.  I remembered when a few of us had picketed the new and hulking big box bookstore.  We carried signs that read: Support local bookstores. We were ignored or jeered.

There finally came a time when the bookstore's existence could no longer be sustained. Again, as Mary Soujourner elaborates, 

Aradia Bookstore no longer exists in the old dark purple stone house in Flagstaff.  Martha's landlord - one of the wealthiest men in town - jacked the rent up $700.  The attrition caused by the loss of her customers to big box and on-line book dealers had left her without resources to withstand the astronomical rise in rent.  She continues to sell books from her house....She and I talk often about Aradia.  I try to have compassion for landlords addicted to money.  I cannot.

If there is any consolation in this, it's that the space eventually fell into progressive hands--despite the landlord's greed. It's now the office and store for Flagstaff Community Supported Agriculture (FCSA).

Photos: Aradia Bookstore; Aradia's owner, Martha Shideler

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