Location: 172 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002
Description: Bluestockings is a one-room bookstore and café, which acts as an activist and community center that challenges “all systems of oppression.” The large storefront windows fill the room with natural light, and a line of small tables sit directly in front of them providing a perfect place to work, read, or sip coffee. Neon-colored paper signs guide customers from section to section, as they browse through a vast selection of books on topics such as “gender studies” or “intros to intersectional feminism.” Two large display tables fill the center of the room while smaller tables showcase books from their upcoming events. A large book-covered counter takes up one wall. From this counter, customers can choose from a selection of fair trade and vegan drinks and snacks to enjoy while they browse.
What I Like: Because of this store’s focus on activism and “[empowering] all people to challenge oppression and participate in creating a society which is equitable, cooperative, and free,” this store had a truly fascinating and unique selection of books. I spent a great deal of time just flipping through some of the graphic novels they had on display, including “Chainmail Bikini: An Anthology of Women Gamers” and “What is a Witch.” This store is entirely run by volunteers and also supports writers who self-publish by selling their zines, magazines, and books. I also liked that this store works to create a “safe space” for discussion and education about difficult or controversial topics. The store’s duel focus on both activism and education creates a calm but supercharged atmosphere while browsing.
How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: Bluestockings has managed to combat pressures of the digital age by embracing the digital age. Their online store contains a large selection of the books they carry in the physical store with a note to shoppers that they are welcome to contact the store by email if they cannot find what they are looking for online. This maintains the connection between the digital and physical and demonstrates to customers that the staff at Bluestockings care about their digital customers too. Interestingly however, Bluestockings does not seem to have delved into the realm of e-books. In addition to selling books, zines, and magazines, the online store also sells a small selection of other products such as tote bags and feminist playing cards. They sell these items and a few others in-store as well. Their sale of free-trade coffee in the café acts an additional means of income besides the sale of books and other items. Bluestockings has also created a PDF document – available on their website – providing a selection of resources for customers and the community as a whole. The store also offers several free events and book clubs each month, which encourages customers to come to the store and purchase books. At these events, the store solicits donations from attendees, as well as from a donate link on their website. Finally, the store encourages their customers and supporters to promote the store through word of mouth, social media, and online reviews on platforms such as Yelp.
Source for quoted material: http://bluestockings.com