Sunday, February 28, 2010

Toronto Women's Bookstore needs new owners to step forward asap!

Update: February 26, 2010

Dear TWB community,

We want to thank you for all of the support you have given to the bookstore since we asked for your help in December. Without your donations and all of the shopping you have done we would have had no choice but to close down at the end of 2009, but because of you we are still standing!

We have almost met the fundraising goal we needed to reach in order to keep TWB open until May and we believed that things were looking up, but sadly in the last few months we have been faced with a new challenge which limits what kind of future is possible for the bookstore. The media attention which has resulted in so much support from all of you also brought our financial situation to the attention of our book suppliers, and with so many bookstores closing down in the past year still owing them money they are unwilling to take a risk on any business that is having trouble.

Since early January, the credit departments at a number of major Canadian book distributors have cancelled our accounts, put us on prepaid terms or cut our credit, and even cancelled all of our orders without ever talking to us to let us know that anything was wrong or give us a chance. We have worked at repairing those relationships but have been unable to convince our suppliers to reinstate our previous credit terms under the current circumstances. Without that credit, it will not be possible to continue the bulk of the university textbook sales that have made up about three quarters of our income for the past decade.

We have let our textbook suppliers know that the line they are taking is essentially working to close us down when we were actually getting back on our feet, and the response has been that this is a position they are taking with a number of stores as a result of the recent closures and the current economic situation, and they are not able or willing to make exceptions for TWB at this time. With this obstacle in place, as well as the steady overall decrease in textbook sales over the past several years, it is clear that a new direction is necessary in order to make the bookstore sustainable in the future.

Over the last five years TWB has also faced a number of internal challenges which have contributed to the current financial situation, including an unsustainably high turnover in managers and board members and an overall lack of clear governing structures. It has become apparent that what is needed in order for the bookstore to survive and be sustainable is to take the route many other feminist bookstores have taken before us and restructure to an ownership model which can provide continuity in oversight, financial credibility, and a focus on TWB's success as a business.

We have spent the past nine months working on getting TWB's finances re-organized, with sustainable staffing and operating budgets. Thanks to all of the hard work of the staff and board members and the support of the community, the bookstore is no longer facing bankruptcy, and we believe that with the consistency, structure, new direction and capital that an owner(s) would bring to the business, it has a very good chance of success.

In short, we are looking for one or more fabulous TWB-loving individuals who would like to buy the bookstore for pennies and run it as owners! We are open to the possibility of a single owner or multiple owners and would also gladly connect any individuals who would be interested in going in as part of a group. If you think you, or someone you know, might just be who we are looking for then please contact us. We will be more than happy to give more detailed financial and organizational information to anyone who is seriously interested.

Our deadline for reaching an agreement on the sale of the bookstore is April 15th, 2010. Sadly, if we are not able to find anyone who agrees to become the proud new owner of the Toronto Women's Bookstore by then, we will have no choice but to voluntarily wind the business down for the end of May.

We realize that this is not the update many of you were expecting and it is certainly not as uplifting as we would have wished, but we do want you all to know that your support and donations have given TWB a good chance at a future, and even if we don't survive we hope that you will feel that we have honoured your support by trying our best to keep this wonderful feminist institution alive.


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