Women's Bookstore

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Women's Bookstore

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Description area

Dates of existence

[197-?] - [199-?]


In 1972, there was increasing awareness within the Vancouver women's movement that a number of feminist periodicals and books published by small women's presses were unavailable in Vancouver. The Vancouver Women's Bookstore, which evolved from A Women's Place, opened on July 16, 1973 to address this need. The bookstore would make available women's movement literature such as underground papers, literary magazines, pamphlets, and books that portrayed women as intelligent, strong, equal, and creative human beings. The bookstore was also seen as important to help facilitate communication between Canadian women and the larger women's movement in North America, and between Vancouver women and women in outlying areas. In addition, the bookstore also functioned as a centre where women could meet to read, discuss issues, and plan rallies, marches and demonstrations.

The Vancouver Women's Bookstore Collective operated the store as a non-profit enterprise, with members of the collective staffing the bookstore as unpaid volunteers. Members of the collective also reviewed each title before it was made available to the public to ensure that it fit in with the goals of the women's movement and feminist ideology. Finances not channeled back to the store were used to support various women's movement ventures through donations. One method of support consisted of shipping books to women's groups outside Vancouver. In exchange for selling the books at meetings and conferences, the women's groups would retain a small commission to help fund their activities. Members of the Collective also accumulated material to document the 'herstory' of the women's movement in Vancouver, and North America.

On October 14, 1980, an arsonist's fire destroyed the Women's Bookstore that had been located at 804 Richards Street since it opened in 1973. The bookstore reopened at 322 West Hastings Street in January 1981. In 1983, the Women's Bookstore relocated again to 315 Cambie Street. Changes in the operating structure occurred in 1992, when the collective, non-profit organization shifted to a worker-owned cooperative. In June 1996, the Women's Bookstore closed its doors for the last time. Finding it harder to survive, the cooperative decided to shut the store while it could still meet its financial obligations. After suppliers were paid, stock was donated to the SFU Women's Centre, and the Gay and Lesbian Library. In addition, leftover funds (about $1,000) were donated to the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre.


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