Outwrite closes, YouthPride struggles and Atlanta Pride seeks a new leader
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.
Outwrite’s closing seen as a clarion call for Atlanta’s LGBT literary landscape
The owners of Brushstrokes in Ansley Mall say they want to ensure Atlanta is not skipped over by noted LGBT authors due to the closing of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse.
Mark Jackson and husband Tom Schloeder, owner of Brushstrokes, said today they have met with the owners of gay bar Mixx to arrange space for author signings.
"Space is a serious consideration and was the main reason we didn't seek author signings in the past. Mixx is the perfect location because it's non-smoking and convenient to the store," Schloeder said today.
"With the unexpected vacuum created by Outwrite's sudden closing, we are concerned that major authors marketing to the LGBTQ consumer might skip the Atlanta market entirely. We are actively seeking authors, publishers, celebrities, and artists, local and national, who need an Atlanta retailer to partner with," Schloeder said.
Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse owner Philip Rafshoon, who closed his iconic Atlanta LGBT bookstore on Jan. 26 and filed bankruptcy the same day, said today donations to the Save Outwrite campaign are being returned to donors. He also said all employees were paid.
Rafshoon announced in November that Outwrite would have to move from its home at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue because its rent was too high. He told the public that the plan was to find a location with cheaper rent and started a “Save Outwrite Books” campaign soliciting donations for moving costs.
Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse 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.
Outwrite owner Philip Rafshoon announced Jan. 26 the independent LGBT bookstore was closing permanently. Founded in 1993 and located at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue for the past 15 years, Outwrite was an iconic Midtown landmark. The bankruptcy filing was made early Thursday morning, about the same time a press release went out stating the store would not relocate as previously said.
Rafshoon announced in November that Outwrite would have to move because its rent was too high. He told the public that the plan was to find a location with cheaper rent and even started a campaign soliciting donations for moving costs, launched with a $1,000 donation from the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation. The store held a “Last Tango” event on Tuesday with numerous author readings.
The bookstore that became an unofficial community center for LGBT Atlanta and also attracted visitors from around the world to its landmark location in the heart of Midtown officially closed today. Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse will not reopen and is filing for bankruptcy.
In an interview Wednesday morning, owner Philip Rafshoon said he knew it was a long shot that the store located at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue would find a place to relocate because of the financial duress the LGBT bookstore has faced over the past five years.
Rafshoon said the hardest part of knowing Atlanta would no longer have an LGBT bookstore like Outwrite was that it leaves a void in the city where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people can come to be safe and gather — and buy books targeted especially to them.
The last chapter of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse at its 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue is now closed.
The independent LGBT bookstore, located for the last 15 years at its iconic landmark in Midtown, held its "Last Tango" at the store last night featuring authors such as Franklin Abbott, Collin Kelley, Hollis Gillespie, Mose Hardin, Karen Head and Don Perryman.
Owner Philip Rafshoon confirmed the store is closing at its 10th and Piedmont location today. He said he could not say much more at this point. He said at the "Last Tango" event Tuesday night that there is no new location picked out yet. The store is open today and selling all of its infrastructure, including bookshelves, tables and chairs.
Owner Philip Rafshoon says LGBT bookstore will not relocate, files for bankruptcy
The last author reading at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse at its 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue location will be Jan. 24 and tentative plans are for the independent bookstore to relocate in mid-February.
"Last Tango at Piedmont & 10th" is the name of the author reading on Jan. 24 hosted by Atlanta poet Franklin Abbott and will be just that — that last night of readings at the store's landmark location.
In November, Outwrite owner Philip Rafshoon announced the bookstore was going to close at the site where it has been located for 15 years in part due to high rent as well as a lackluster economy affecting sales.
LGBT bookstore hosts final author reading for 10th & Piedmont location tonight