Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Shoppers Not Wilde Enough for Oscar

Sure made me sad to read that the famed Oscar Wilde Bookstore in the West Village, believed to be the oldest gay and lesbian bookstore in the country, has announced it will close on March 29 after 41 years in business. This isn't the first time the shop has been on the brink of extinction -- six years ago it was set to shutter when a new owner came to the rescue -- but with the current economic climate it seems certain this is the end. I hate that a shop that played such a pivotal role in the lives of so many of my brothers and sisters is perishing, yet at the same time I find myself buying all of my books online these days (and I can't help but buy all my CDs and DVDs online because all those shops have already gone under), so I can't say I'm not partially responsible for its demise, too.

Kim Brinster, the store’s manager since 1996 and the store’s fifth owner (since 2006), sent the following e-mail to customers on Tuesday afternoon.

It is with a sorrowful heart that after 41 years in business the Oscar Wilde Bookshop will close its doors for the final time on March 29, 2009. We want to thank all of our customers for their love and loyalty to the store over the years. You have helped make this store a world wide destination and all of us at the store have enjoyed welcoming our neighbors whether they are next door or half way around the world.

In 1967 Craig Rodwell started this landmark store that not only sold Gay and Lesbian literature but also became a meeting place for the LGBT community. Over the years it grew into a first-rate bookshop thanks to the loyal, smart and dedicated staff. There are not enough words to thank these dedicated booksellers for making the OWB one of the world’s finest LGBT bookstores. I feel very honored to have gotten to work with them.

Unfortunately we do not have the resources to weather the current economic crisis and find it’s time to call it a day. So thanks to all who have been a part of the Oscar Wilde family over the years, you have truly been a part of a great global community.


Neal said...

We lose history like this everyday. Small business owners just don't have the resources to compete with bigger chains or online sources that offer the same items at substantial discounts. This is what happens when we all get that bottom-line mentality of getting something for the cheapest possible price. There is no way to put a price tag on a sense of community and place, or the thrill of discovering something new when browsing. Very sad.

Anonymous said...

Like the movie about Walmart, this is the result of the "High price for low prices"


Richard Wall said...

I loved the Oscar Wilde Bookshop because they used to stock Joan Crawford Christmas Cards in the 70's. I will never forget the ones I bought a box full, and they said (with Joan holding a coat hanger high in the air) "You WILL have a Merry Christmas!!" Love it!

Anonymous said...

We lost our local gay book store n Denver. I loved that place. You could always count on the staff recommending something or telling you about new items. You can buy online but nothing beat picking up the book and reading the inside fold. I can't bring myself to buy on line and the Tattered Covers gay section keeps getting smaller. SIGHHHHHHHHH

BW said...

On a slightly tangential note, did I ever tell you about how half the work I did as a part-timer at Typing Unlimited in Tucson seemed to be for somebody submitting to the Christopher Street Press? (This would be toward the end of my first semester, after I saw a help-wanted sign I couldn't refuse and before I saw a help-wanted ad I couldn't refuse for the school-paper staff.)

John said...

Indeed a sad report. I hope St. Louis's owns historic LGBT "Left Bank Books" store can survive. The central west end just wouldn't be the same without it.