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‘Once upon a time we were there and fabulous’

The closing of Outwrite Bookstore & More should serve as a clarion call to LGBT shoppers who like the idea of having their own spaces, but still don’t shop locally because it isn’t as easy as buying online.

That’s the hope of Sara Luce Look, lesbian co-owner of feminist bookstore Charis Books & More, which opened in Atlanta in 1974, some 19 years before Outwrite’s debut.

“We want people to shop here because they value independent thought and voices,” Look said. “We are all really sad about Outwrite and feel it as a huge loss for our community. It really hits home for us.”

Outwrite closed and declared bankruptcy on Jan. 26 after years of financial struggle. Founded in 1993, the store moved to the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue in 1995 and become known as an unofficial LGBT community center, hosting frequent author readings.

“In the past nine months, as we first started talking about our financial problems, we have heard from so many people who talked about how important the store has been to them. That was the reason why they come to Atlanta, or moved to Atlanta,” said Outwrite owner Philip Rafshoon.

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Outwrite Bookstore plans move from landmark location

Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse

A sluggish economy, a rapidly changing book industry and high rent in the heart of Midtown are key factors forcing Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse to move from its home at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue.

When the move will take place is not yet known, said owner Philip Rafshoon. The store’s lease expires in a couple of months, he said, and a “For Lease” sign now hangs from the side of the store’s exterior along 10th Street.

But Rafshoon believes there is still a need for LGBT bookstores in Atlanta — although his store also sells many mainstream books as well as novelty gifts, food and coffee.