Support Raven Used Books Cambridge:Pandemic relief

Raven Used Books has been an independently owned store in Harvard Square for 15 years.  When we opened on JFK street in 2005, one reporter noted that we were opening “against all odds”, and when we moved to our new location on Church Street 5 years ago we were dubbed in the press “a cultural holdout”.  Despite Harvard Square’s skyrocketing rents, increasing changeover to corporate chain stores, and the loss of over a dozen bookstores during the previous decades, we have persisted.  But now we must humbly ask the help of our loyal customers and supporters to survive the crippling business impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

During our time, the Raven has bought and sold some 700,000 books from and to academics, politicians, musicians, authors, grad students, and a very passionate reading community from Cambridge, the greater Boston area, and visitors from around the world.  We are the only strictly used bookstore left in Harvard Square, and despite the mounting financial challenges of the shifting business landscape and surrounding shop and restaurant closures, we have been dedicated to continuing to serve this wonderful community and preserve some of Harvard Square’s unique academic and cultural atmosphere.  Buoyed by strong winter sales despite rising rents and loss of beloved neighbors such as Crema Cafe and Black Ink, we were relieved to be on a sustainable path forward.  

However, the closure required by the current coronavirus crisis and predicted future impact on retail for many months to come (compounded by closures of the Cambridge and Boston area colleges and universities) will mean insurmountable financial challenges without assistance. Despite the generous rent forbearance over the next few months by our landlord, debts continue to accrue in the form of state and federal taxes, utilities, insurance premiums, book wholesaler bills, and existing loan obligations.  Overstock online sales provide some, but ultimately modest relief.  

It is uncomfortable to ask the community for support in keeping the store open, especially with the knowledge that so many individuals and small business are in similar dire financial straits.  But with the urging of friends and devoted customers, we realize it is better to ask for help then go down without a fight.  Please only contribute if you are in a position that you are able to comfortably do so, and know that we are incredibly grateful for your generosity.  These are difficult times for all, and we miss seeing you peruse our shelves.  We look forward to seeing you again! 

John Petrovato (owner), Josh, Annie, and Clare.47880664_1588715215158689_r.jpeg


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John Petrovato and Raven Used Books 
Cambridge, MA
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