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Dionne Sims seeks new owner of St. Paul's Black Garnet Books

How Dionne Sims, owner of Black Garnet Books, learned to balance mental health and owning a business
How Dionne Sims, owner of Black Garnet Books, learned to balance mental health and owning a business 03:45

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Black Garnet Books' Dionne Sims is looking to hand off ownership of her beloved St. Paul bookstore to pursue her next dream.

Sims took to Instagram on Tuesday to announce she's returning to school to hone her craft as a writer and needs to step away from her business, one of Minnesota's two Black-owned brick-and-mortar booksellers.

"Because I'm someone who throws myself head-and-heart-first into my goals, I refuse to half-ass running Black Garnet, or half-ass my schooling. And so here we are! I hope to have your support and understanding," Sims said on Instagram.

Sims founded Black Garnet in the weeks following George Floyd's murder, first calling it into existence with this tweet: "Minnesota doesn't have a Black-owned bookstore. I think that's my new dream."

She then turned her vision into reality with the help of a crowdfunding campaign, first establishing an online marketplace during the pandemic before opening a pop-up store in Minneapolis.

"There are enough Black and racially diverse authors to fill a bookstore," Sims told WCCO in 2020. "We don't have to be just a little shelf in the corner labeled 'diverse books.'"  

Dionne Sims WCCO

In October 2022, Sims officially opened Black Garnet Books off University and Hamline avenues in the Midway neighborhood, the only operating Black-owned bookstore in the state at the time, featuring 2,000 works by authors and illustrators of color.

Now, Sims is searching for a kindred spirit to continue her mission.

"Black Garnet Books is a manifestation of so many things that are bigger than me, bigger than the very simple dream I had of making sure there's always a Black-owned bookstore in my home of Minnesota. A dream I know is shared by so many people here," Sims said on Instagram.

And her pitch is a convincing one since she's already done all the heavy lifting.

"Might I point you in the direction of a completely set up, established, thriving, well-loved bookstore in the heart of the capital city of Minnesota?" Sims said.

Since Black Garnet Books' opening, Mary Taris founded Strive Publishing & Bookstore in downtown Minneapolis. And months before Sims published her fateful tweet in 2020, Zsamé Morgan founded her Babycake's Book Stack bookmobile in St. Paul, which still travels around the metro.

NOTE: The original airdate of the video attached to this article is March 7, 2023.

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