I just found out that a somewhat local independent bookstore, called Cellar Door Bookstore, is being evicted from their Riverside, CA location of ten years. Here’s their announcement. At the time of their eviction notice, they were given a meager forty-one days to clear out their entire inventory and hand over their keys.
Since they’ve received no explanation for the eviction from their property management company, speculation about this terrible surprise is all anybody has right now. Cellar Door has long held reading events led by local drag queens called “Drag Queen Storytime.” It’s hard not to feel that this harmless and supportive event is the cause of their eviction. No official reason has been given, so it wouldn’t be right to condemn anybody for their actions yet. However, the timing of everything—so soon after a recent Drag Queen Storytime—is telling. If that’s the reason, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest. Upset, but not surprised.
Hateful actions from ignorant people happen all the time, and often it’s especially hurtful when those actions happen so close to home. Luckily, Cellar Door is not run by people who will take any of this lying down. They will have to vacate, but that doesn’t mean they’ve reached the end of their story. They’re sure to find another location (hopefully close by and run by good management) and will continue providing their community with a welcoming and loving book-centered experience.
In the meantime, I’ll be going there as soon as possible to give them some of my money during this rough time. I’m also excited to soon have the opportunity to continue supporting them at their future location.
I encourage anyone who reads this to purchase as many books as you can from them—they have an online storefront—or make use of companies that support local bookstores and other worthwhile literary causes, such as Bookshop.org, IndieBound.org, ThriftBooks, Better World Books, or really just anywhere that isn’t Amazon.1
UPDATE: According to a poorly written article in The Press-Enterprise, Cellar Door has been given until March 31, not February 28 as they were first told, to relocate. A small kindness, but one only given after this story attracted a fair amount of backlash from the community. The store will still be moving and will still be better off for it.