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True Colors bookstore puts out a plea for help

  • Blog Post by: Laurie Hertzel
  • December 20, 2011 - 4:00 PM

 

True Colors Bookstore, 4755 Chicago Av., Minneapolis, is in danger of closing. Handout photo.

True Colors Bookstore, 4755 Chicago Av., Minneapolis, is in danger of closing. Handout photo.

 

For nearly 40 years, it was known as Amazon Feminist Bookstore. Under its new owner, the name changed (more on that in a bit) and the inventory broadened to include a fine selection of children's books and books about spirituality. But True Colors Bookstore (as it has been known for three years) is in deep financial trouble, its owner says, and in the New Year it is likely to close.

"When I bought the store, it was before the economy crashed," said Ruta Skujins. "And then it crashed, and our sales now are probably half of what they were before. There are some days when I sell, like, $78. I need a lot more than that on a daily basis to just pay expenses, let alone paying me. We are in the red by about $25,000."

Without a buyer, an angel investor or a benefactor, she said, the store likely will close in February, when its lease is up. Skujins has posted a plea on the store's website: "Please continue to patronize us during this transition period," it says, in part. "I still have hope, and also still have months and months of rent to pay!"

The store opened in 1970 under the name Amazon Feminist Bookstore. It bounced around various locations in Minneapolis and was probably most successful when it was located near Loring Park.

"It was a real icon," Skujins said. "Gloria Steinem was here, and Kate Bornstein. It's always been a center of feminism."

When the big online store called Amazon opened, the two businesses worked out an arrangement: the Minneapolis store sold the name to the digital store but was allowed to continue using the name--unless the store was sold. So when Skujins bought the store three and a half years ago, it became True Colors.

Now in the Nokomis Neighborhood, on Chicago Avenue, True Colors has a lower profile. "It's a nice neighborhood, and a nice area," Skujins said. But the economy has made it hard for all bookstores, and niche bookstores are finding things particularly tough. "I still hear, three and a half years later, 'We thought you'd closed ages ago.' "

Still, she says she continues to hold out hope. "I have a friend who's a psychic who says she does not see the store closing," she said. 'And we're working on some fundraisers. Maybe there's still hope."

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