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Local Non-Profit To Take Helm Of Nation's Oldest LGBT Bookstore

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Giovanni's Room-- the country's oldest continuously operated LGBT bookstore-- closed in May. But a local non-profit will reopen the landmark this fall.

Competition from online book retailers like forced Giovanni's Room owner Ed Hermance to close its doors. But Hermance inked a two-year deal with Philly AIDS Thift.

"At the end of that time, I hope they are very satisfied with sales and buy the property from me," he says.

Philly AID theft interior
Interior of Philly AIDS Thrift (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

Philly AIDS Thrift sells used clothing, furniture and other items, generating about $20,000 a month in revenue that it donates to the AIDS Fund. The store will keep its Queen Village location and broaden offerings at the Philly AIDS Thift at Giovanni's Room when the location reopens this fall, says co-founder Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou:

"We'll still continue to sell new LGBT books there," she says, "but we'll be expanding with our used books and we'll also be able to fill the store with handpicked items, including vintage items, antique items, you name it- we'll have a nice selection there."

Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou
Philly AIDS Thift co-founder Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

Hermance says he could lose money on the deal, since it's only designed to cover expenses.

"I'll still own the building so if something serious goes wrong, it'll come out of my pocket, so there may not be any profit at all," he says, "but I am so happy our services will continue. If the store closed there's certain things that just wouldn't be available in this area.

Under Philly AIDS Thift's leadership, the book store will continue its author readings and online book sales.

The store will host its grand opening October 10th.


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