BY Abu Mubarik, 6:00am July 09, 2024,

The first Black-owned bookstore in Octavia Butler’s hometown needs funding to stay in business

Nikki High opened Pasadena’s first and only Black-owned bookstore Octavia’s Bookshelf. Photo: Instagram/Octavia’s Bookshelf

Meet Nikki High, who opened Pasadena’s first and only Black-owned bookstore Octavia’s Bookshelf. High was inspired by the speculative fiction writer Octavia E Butler, who spent her life and career in the city.

As per The Guardian, High wanted her bookstore to reflect the values of Butler’s writings and to specialize in selling the work of writers of color. This was after she first encountered Butler’s work as a young person in high school reading Kindred, first published in 1979.

High’s bookstore is curated with a set of books and non-book items sourced from mainly independent Bipoc-owned businesses, she told The Guardian.

“I had been thinking about [this bookstore] for about 10 years, but not in a way where I was ready to leave my job and do it,” said High.

To start her bookstore venture, High, who managed communications for 15 years at Trader Joe’s, said she relied on her own savings and was also looking to take out a loan until everything changed overnight. 

In a tweet on New Year’s Eve 2022, she mentioned her plans to start Octavia’s Bookshelf. The tweet instantly went viral, getting over 10,000 retweets and over 5 million views. Soon, support and donations started trickling in. She would eventually raise over $22,000 on GoFundMe.

In a comment, she acknowledged the role of crowdfunding in realizing her dream. “I wanted [my bookstore] to be completely independent so that I would not have to compromise my values,” she said.

Two years after using GoFundMe to raise money to set her dream in motion, the entrepreneur said her beloved bookstore needs funding to stay in business. In a post on Instagram, she noted:

“We need a lifeline,” she wrote on Instagram. “I am reopening our GoFundMe campaign in hopes of raising enough money to keep us going and get healthy. The situation is dire so I am asking for your support in the form of a donation and/or a share.”

“The book selling industry is tricky on its own. Adding the layer of being an underresourced Black woman makes it even that more challenging. But thanks to all of your support, we made it happen. We opened to long lines of cheering and enthusiastic customers. I will forever be grateful for how y’all showed up and out for me.”

So far, she has raised more than $70,000 after launching the appeal on Instagram.

“I don’t have the connects to get donors, an investor wouldn’t be wise as they would likely not see much of a profit (margins are insanely small) and after applying for grants upon grants I find myself here,” she shared.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 8, 2024

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