London’s first Black-owned bookstore has been saved from closing its doors for good, thanks to the community. This comes just days after staff posted on social media that it would shut down after serving the community for more than 55 years.
New Beacon Books staff released a statement that reads, “due to the amazing support from the community in response to our fundraising campaign yesterday and today, the bookshop has been given a lifeline to assist in moving forward.”
The bookstore was opened in 1966 by political activist and writer John La Rose and his partner Sarah White. It is also the UK’s first Black-owned bookstore.
Located on Stroud Green Road, the co-founders created a publishing house and bookstore that opened doors for Black British, Caribbean, African American, and Asian literature and writers.
Like so many other small businesses, the pandemic and other lockdowns impacted the bookstore financially. Competition from online retailers such as Amazon has also played a role in declining revenues.
“As a result of the pandemic and the various lockdowns, New Beacon Books has seen a marked decrease in footfall and consequent income and overheads have increased,” a statement on Dec. 29 reads. “The growth in online shopping has had a marked impact upon income to independent bookshops generally speaking.”
The community and its supporters chipped in shortly after the bookstore staff announced it would close down by contributing to a crowdfund.
Money raised will be used to pay rent, rates, utilities, and other overhead costs. The team also plans to hire more part-time staff members to support help with an increase in online orders.
“We have been overwhelmed by the positive response to the online crowdfunding campaign and the many in-person purchases by the community,” a follow-up statement reads. “We would like to express again our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for this support.”