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Nation's Oldest LGBT Bookstore To Close In May

By Dan Wing

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A staple of Philadelphia's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community for nearly four decades will close its doors for good in just a few weeks, after being unable to find a new buyer.

Considered the oldest LGBT bookstore in the nation, Giovanni's Room first opened for business in 1973 on South Street. After a stint on Spruce Street, the store moved to its current and final location at 12th and Pine Streets in the city's Gayborhood neighborhood. The store's owner, Ed Hermance, had been working to sell the store since the summer, but any potential sales fell apart.

"One after the other it really turns out that they really didn't have the money. They had to have new ideas, because they couldn't just continue what we had been doing because we hadn't been making any money," Hermance said.

Hermance says that was in large part due to an unfair competitive edge given to larger retailers like Amazon.

"It's not possible for a store like ours to compete with somebody who doesn't have to make a profit, and they don't make a profit. But their investors don't care as long as they're tightening their grip on the throats of the publishers, and that they're driving book stores out of business," Hermance said.

So what's next for Hermance? He says he's considering starting a regularly-scheduled walking tour of lesbian/gay Philadelphia.

"I've spent 37 years in this store, and another five or so before that in Philadelphia. So, I have accumulated quite a lot of information about this city," Hermance said.

Giovanni's Room will close its doors on May 17th. Hermance says the store's inventory will be on sale starting on April 30th.

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