‘Save Outwrite’ donations returned to benefactors

The “Save Outwrite” campaign raised a total of $6,680 and so far $5,000 of that has been returned to donors, Rafshoon said today.

The campaign received an initial $1,000 donation from Pamm Burdett of the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation. Two separate donors made donations of $4,000 and $1,000. At the store’s anniversary party, patrons made tips to the campaign totaling $680.

The $4,000 and $1,000 donations have been returned, Rafshoon said. He said he is continuing to try to reach Burdett to return that donation. The $680 will be donated to a charitable organization, he said.

“We just don’t want this to overshadow everything we did,” Rafshoon said. “I appreciate all the calls of support we’ve gotten over the past 24 hours.”

While publicly discussing plans to move and continue Outwrite, Rafshoon paid a $1,000 fee to Atlanta bankruptcy attorney Keith Eady on Oct. 13 and another fee of $6,694 to Eady on Nov. 30, as well as a $306 court fee, the bankruptcy filing shows.

Rafshoon said today the bankruptcy attorney was paid in October because he needed advice in case he decided to file for bankruptcy for Outwrite.

“We certainly batted the idea [of bankruptcy] around for at least if not more than a year,” Rafshoon said. “I have been talking on and off with [bankruptcy attorney] Keith Eady. We started talks in case we had to do it. We wanted to make sure the attorney was paid in case this was the route we had to go.”

It wasn’t until Jan. 10 that the final decision to file for bankruptcy was made and it wasn’t known until Jan. 17 that the bankruptcy filing would be made on Jan. 26, Rafshoon said.

“That’s when we made the decision there was no turning back,” he said.

The landlord of the building at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue, Jodaco Inc., filed an eviction suit against Outwrite on Jan. 10. Rafshoon said he and Outwrite disputed the lawsuit so a court date could be made. Otherwise, the landlord could have forced the store to get out of the space by Jan. 18, Rafshoon said.

“We had to file bankruptcy to avoid the court hearing. The court date was yesterday and when we filed bankruptcy the hearing was canceled,” Rafshoon said.

By disputing the eviction lawsuit, Rafshoon said money could be made to pay sales taxes as well as employees.

“Every dime had to go to into paying sales taxes. It wasn’t until Jan. 17 when we realized we had to do this [bankruptcy filing] on Jan. 26,” he said. “And every employee got paid.”

Outwrite owes $184,000 in state sales taxes from the past four years and has more than $500,000 in total debts owed, according to court documents filed in U.S. bankruptcy court. The store listed more than $78,000 in total assets, records show.

The store had $298.54 in its checking count as of Jan. 26, according to the filing. Outwrite states in the documents that it lost $43,207 in 2009, lost $98,571 in 2010, lost $10,000 in 2011 but made a $5,000 profit in 2012.

 Founded in 1993, Outwrite became an unofficial community center for Atlanta, attracting visitors from across the state as well as becoming a destination spot for out-of-town visitors. The store was also known for attracting numerous star authors and celebrities, including Chelsea Handler, Don Lemon, Gregory Maguire and Jodi Picoult.

Outwrite also served as a place where many upcoming and local authors could sell their books and hold readings.

Photo: Philip Rafshoon at his desk on Jan. 26, the day Outwrite closed permanently. (by Dyana Bagby)