Philip Rafshoon, the former owner of the now shuttered Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, has been named the new program director for the AJC Decatur Book Festival.
“I'm studying right now and trying to figure out what exactly has been done at the festival in the previous years and talking to people about what they want to see changed and what will work,” Rafshoon told GA Voice today. “I'm celebrating right now that I have this great position but the work begins right away.”
Rafshoon will officially take up the position Jan. 1 and will replace outgoing program director Terra Elan McVoy.
Philip Rafshoon, who owned Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse for 18 years before it went out of business on Jan. 26 and was forced to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, writes in a blog on CNN today that, "Our community must learn the value of supporting our own LGBT resources."
In his column, Rafshoon also writes of Outwrite's importance in LGBT Atlanta and Georgia:
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 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.