You paid our rent and more…
To each and every single one of you who supported our GoFundMe, purchased products, stopped by to share ideas or encouraging words, we humbly pause to thank you from the center of our hearts. It has brought us great happiness to reflect on the care, concern and support you’ve demonstrated. Your act of kindness has uplifted our financial and spiritual position. Here is a list of the expenses you assisted with:
- 3 months store rent ($5,400)
- Filing fees to establish a nonprofit called “Afriware Books Foundation” ($650)
- Passed due publisher invoices ($8,865.00)
- Staffing (less than $1000)
And the list continues to grow, thankfully. I truly couldn't see my way through the mountain of expenses laid before me and now there is a ray of light at the end of this financially challenging tunnel. We are are now current for our major accounts and rent.
We appreciate that the community has stepped up to the plate and rallied around us from $5 to $500. May your gift be returned back to you one thousand fold. We do not take this lightly and wish you a bounty of wellness, wealth, health and happiness in return. May each of you online, in store and on GoFundMe understand how deeply we appreciate you. A partial list of those who opted to be named from the GoFundMe side alone is listed at the close, but this list extends beyond the names shown.
Organizations/government officials like Edelweiss Legacy provided sponsorship of our staff over the summer; Dr. Griffin provided free consultation and direction advice while working on her doctorate; Dr. Louverta Hurt (Chair, Education Task Force) sponsored a fundraising activity which Congressman Danny K. Davis gave the keynote; the Deltas purchased and displayed books in support of their “National Day of Reading;” The You Go Girls’ Book Club; Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon lobbied on our behalf at D209’s School Board Meeting where I introduced myself at this link; One of our favorite authors, Nnedi Okorafor, leveraged her Instagram account to send a ton of followers our way; The Village Free Press and The Voice newspapers shared our story far and wide; Broadview Public Library made large purchases; Repair, Restore and Grow Black Communities (RRGBC) (sign their petition to support Chicago based Black owned bookstores) - RRGBC saw the need early on, and, there are too many to name each of you who did something wonderful to bring attention to our situation. In other words…
You’ve done your part…
And now it’s time to double down our focus on school/library districts to participate in adding cultural literature to their reading lists by ordering from Black owned booksellers and Afriware Books, Co in particular.
Afterall, it takes a village, right? It takes an entire village; not just the people in it, but also its institutions. And our next step in this journey will highlight the fact that it’s time to express the importance of schools and other educational institutions therein to join in on the movement to provide quality books to the communities they serve by dedicating some of their funds in support of Black owned businesses, in particular, this Black owned veteran community centered bookseller.
Our next step in this journey will take us to the best of both worlds - online and in-person, a hybrid model of sorts. We will move to a shared virtual artsy office space located in Oak Park called CrossFunction and do events/pop ups from there and around town. We will lean into our online offerings by continuing to upload our existing inventory and new titles.
For all who are able, we will leave our GoFundMe page up so that you can continue to:
- support us in providing great cultural literature and programs to the community
- provide curated book lists and literature to institutions, and,
- build out our non-profit arm to assist with sustaining us into the future.
We view this as an interim location that we will operate out of until we restructure and pivot to focus on getting school contracts in hand.
The long term goal is to reopen in a physical space, but for now we are stretching your dollars as far as possible and are significantly decreasing our greatest expense; the rent. We have thought this through to the best of our abilities with the information we have, and now move forward on a different path with the strength of the community, power of faith, and a smart-sized digital/physical footprint.
We are scheduled to leave our current location in the Eisenhower Tower at the end of October, but we invite you to stop by and shop ‘til you drop until Oct. 20. We will keep most items (Black soap, shea butter), but discontinue carrying our perfumed body oils, and hope you will clean us out.
When does the transfer to the virtual space officially take place?
Nov 1, 2023
Click the link below to Read More and to view our thank you Facebook video post.
==============Original GoFundMe Letter to the community sent Aug. 26, 2023=======
this was a tough letter to write regarding the future of Afriware Books Co...
Open Letter to the Community
I hope this letter finds you in good health and high spirits on your journey forward.
I wish I had better news to share…
Afriware Books Co is in danger of closing. Though we just made it to our 30th year, it is a sweet and very bitter moment we have come to terms with. We’ve reached a point where an immediate cash infusion is needed. I have shed many tears and anguished over whether to even share this with you. After all, many of you have been with us and contributed since the beginning. As the owner and founder since inception, Afriware Books has done all we can do at this point. Our expenses have long overrun our income. While I’m trying to remain hopeful, I will need your help.
This is an appeal to anyone who has benefitted from our work.
Anyone who would like to contribute to a great cause,
Anyone who understands that there is a very active war against keeping our history alive and Black books in circulation,
Anyone who wants to participate in moving forward to protect our cultural interests by contributing to a longstanding institution that has stood the test of time in upholding the best and brightest aspects of our legacy.
Before the book bans, we always carried Black books. Before the African History cancellations, we’ve preserved it. But unfortunately, we’ve gotten to the point that we are unable to carry this load much further without a strong showing of immediate financial support. Our rent has not been paid for this month. We are actively considering scaling down dramatically by moving from in-person to online-only operations. We are also considering your suggestions for strategic partnerships.
I felt that this is the last stone left unturned and that I must at least let you know in case you are able to help.
In the last few months, we’ve approached several school districts asking if we could supply books for them, and most have not responded. In spite of the largely African American student make-up, we were urging administrators to decide to reflect this same demographic in their vendor contracts for book orders. This is not a charity request. We are a high quality business willing and able to fulfill these contracts. However, the overwhelming majority have not been forthcoming. Libraries have responded with orders that are too few and far between. Is it too much to expect local schools and libraries to place their book orders with their neighbor who is a veteran bookseller from the same demographic that they serve?
My funds have almost been depleted. My family has been tapped out, and I have already agreed to take a teaching job to bridge the gap. We are also planning other fundraising activities in a month or two, but our bills keep building and we no longer have the luxury of time.
This is serious, and close to final… to avoid a potential sale or closure of the business.
Unless… you come forward with your contacts for principals, administrators, teachers, librarians, book lovers or key decision-makers for book purchasing. Please offer a good word or two to buy from a Black-owned bookstore for the upcoming school year. Just five school or library contracts could turn everything around.
If you would like to make a non-tax deductible contribution of course you can always order from the Afriwarebooks.com website, or click the link below and change the quantity to any amount you wish. Any amount would be greatly appreciated. This literally will not move forward without you.
Donation Link: https://www.afriwarebooks.com/afriwareshipping.html
Zelle: [email redacted]
Paypal: [email redacted]
Go Fund Me: https://gofund.me/7735cc66
Make Checks out to: Afriware Books, Co, and send to: Afriware Books, Co 1701 S. 1st Ave., Suite 400, Maywood, IL 60153
With all sincerity, Divine Light, Love and Trust in the power of people to move mountains,
TikTok Video Explaination -