For those who don’t know me, I’m Heather: the more recent other half of Third House Books & Coffee, a local independent bookstore in Gainesville, Florida. I started volunteering at Third House in April of 2017, when my life was very much falling apart: I was jobless, in an abusive relationship I didn’t know how to get out of, and plagued by a depressive episode that would not allow me to get out of bed for days at a time. Third House gave me solace and a safe space when I needed it most.
After more than a year, I’m a partner here at the store where I work alongside its founder and my dear friend, Kiren. Third House started as a place of solace, and resistance, for him too. We opened our doors October 28th, 2016, during a difficult time for our country and for Gainesville itself. It started as a place where people could grab some free coffee after an unfortunate election to caffienate the disappointment away, or meet others who felt just as let down.
After almost two years of being open, and several years of planning, Third House Books is struggling. We opened without enough working capital to sustain the store for its first few years, mostly because we felt the community needed a bookstore, and in general a comfortable space to just be, following the election of 2016 and the abhorrent bigotry that has surfaced surrounding that. We wanted to create a space where any marginalized person could feel comfortable and safe, and also enjoy what we consider to be one of the world’s best comforts: literature. We have over $18K in loans, and now our rent is going up by 30% starting November. As is, Kiren and myself do not get paid, as the store does not yet make profit. This means we rely on the support of our families and side hustles to make ends meet. With the upcoming increase in rent, Third House is at risk of closing in the upcoming months.
We saw Gainesville mourn the loss of beloved Wild Iris, and we do not want to leave this lovely place bereft of an indie bookstore. Please help us pay off a loan or two, or a month of rent, so that we can keep this community space open.
Anything helps, and if you cannot donate, don’t fret. We totally understand. Feel free to share this with book loving friends.
We love you, Gainesville.
Heather + Kiren
- Elizabeth Pratt
- Mattias Herrfurth
- Anthony Nappi
- Kiren Valjee
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