Bookstore owner Jeannine Cook will be able to remain in business after receiving support from her community.
Cook is the owner of Ida’s Bookshop, located in Collingswood, NJ. The shop opened in 2021 to amplify women authors, artists, and activists, and it is the sister shop of her first bookstore located in Philadelphia, PA, according to Black In Jersey.
On Jan. 3, Cook shared with the New Jersey community that Ida’s was on the brink of closure due to the landlord increasing the price of rent. This would mean the store won’t be able to cater to local customers in-store for Black History Month since its lease is set to expire during February.
“Just so folks aren’t alarmed if we potentially have to move/close, our landlord is going up on rent into a rate that we cannot afford-all we sell are books- and if you can imagine the margins ain’t great. Our lease ironically ends in February (Blk History Month) which could mean sadly one of a handful of Blk owned businesses would be closing during Blk History Month,” Cook shared in a statement posted to Instagram.
Cook then conjured an unconventional business agreement with the landlord to pay a full year of rent if he was willing to increase the rate only slightly, CBS News reports. The landlord accepted, but Cook was now faced with the challenge of obtaining funds that were currently unavailable to her.
However, Isis Williams, president of the Haddon Township Equity Initiative, stepped in to help Cook save her bookstore after initially seeing her Instagram post.
“I saw the post on social media and called her pretty immediately,” Williams told CBS News.
Williams and Cook agreed to host a modern-day rent party on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — like Black tenants in Harlem, NY, used to do in the 1920s when dealing with unreasonably high rent — to discuss ideas on how to keep the shop in business. Additionally, the pair created a GoFundMe page in hopes of securing $23,000. At the time of this writing, the raise has surpassed its goal.
“We met the goal. $23,000+ raised for another year in our current location at Ida’s Bookshop while we work to purchase a permanent space in Collingswood. This was done in less than a week,” Cook shared on Instagram. “A HUGE testament to your SHOWING UP in so many ways on behalf of yourselves, each other, us, and the future.”
She added, “Just writing to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what we’ve done TOGETHER and what we will continue to do together. Thank you to the team from @haddontownshipequityinitiative for coaching us through this process.”