Wide World Books & Maps, a seller of travel-focused books and accessories that’s been a fixture in the Wallingford neighborhood for decades, is hoping to raise $50,000 to keep it in business.
Another independent bookstore in Seattle is turning to crowdfunding to help save it from closure.
It’s aiming to raise $30,000 by April 15 through a GoFundMe online campaign.
If it reaches that goal, local travel company Rick Steves’ Europe will donate 10 seven-day tours to Istanbul, London, Paris or Rome, which would raise an additional $20,000 for the bookstore.
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Owner Julie Hunt said she’d heard of using crowdfunding to start a business or launch a product, but she hadn’t thought of it to help her own established business until she read a Seattle Times story about a similar campaign by Seattle Mystery Bookshopto raise $50,000.
After Hunt announced earlier this month that Wide World Books & Maps would be closing at the end of February, “I had hundreds of customers come in and express dismay about the store closing and asking if there was anything they could do,” she said. “When I read the story in The Seattle Times, I thought maybe this would be a way to engage our customers and try to raise money for our store.”
As of Friday afternoon, after one day of the campaign, nearly $1,300 had been raised.
The bookstore’s sales dropped about three years ago — possibly due to more people buying online — and have stayed at that lower level, Hunt said. Along with a short-lived clothing store she had opened a few doors down, that meant she had less money to buy inventory. So when customers came in, sometimes the store didn’t have what they needed, possibly perpetuating a downward spiral.
Hunt, who has owned the bookstore since 2009, plans to use the money raised to restock inventory, pay off back bills, upgrade the computer system and website, pay for advertising to attract new customers and open a travel consultancy within the bookstore. It already hosts travel events in the store.
Several other bookstores around the country have also turned to crowdfunding to raise needed funds, said Oren Teicher, CEO of American Booksellers Association.
Some of the efforts do “provide a short-term help to stores that are going through difficult times,” he said. “But at the end of the day, bookstores are businesses. They’re going to succeed or fail because they’ve got a viable business plan and they’re providing a service and a function in their communities that consumers want to support.”
Seattle Mystery Bookshop, meanwhile, was close to reaching its $50,000 goal as of Friday afternoon — about $700 short. It’s set a Monday deadline to end the campaign.
“Flabbergasted. Completely taken aback. Humbled and awed,” Seattle Mystery Bookshop bookkeeper Fran Fuller said of the response. “It’s not just the money. We need it and yea for that. But the support, the outpouring, has been incredible.”