Owner Selling Philly LGBT Bookstore Giovanni’s Room

Owner Ed Hermance is retiring and selling the local icon after 37 years.

Courtesy of Giovanni's Room

Just shy of its 40th anniversary on Oct. 1, Giovanni’s Room is about to go through a life change that puts the future of the nation’s oldest running LGBT bookstore in a questionable place.

Owner Ed Hermance — who’s been at the helm of the independently run bookstore since 1976 — announced this week to the Philadelphia Gay News that he is retiring this winter and will be putting the building up for sale. In the article, he says he is looking for ways to keep the business running under a new owner, but will have to go elsewhere if there is not enough support to keep Giovanni’s Room alive:

I know it’s possible for independent bookstores to thrive in the current environment. I don’t know if someone has the resources and the passion to continue the store … If someone wanted to rent the space for a different kind of bookstore and no one wanted to continue Giovanni’s Room, I’d be pleased to rent it to them, thinking that it would be in their interest to help all the people who have depended on us. 

Hermance says he is still unsure about the asking price of the business, but hints that it won’t break the bank.

We have inventory that is worth something and we also owe for books. It would also depend on some degree on who bought it. … I think Giovanni’s Room has a lot of goodwill in it, so I wouldn’t be embarrassed to take $100,000 for the business. I am not asking for a lot, I would just like to have enough for a stick of gum.

The real sweetheart of a kicker, though is that he will be donating profits from the building sale or rental to be donated to a local LGBT charity.

The value of the buildings, whether I am renting or selling them, is going to the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. … I feel like I would like them to have it. This property was bought and paid for by the LGBT community so it is important for me for that to give back to the community.

This is shocking, scary news for this local — and global — icon. Could the community pull together to keep it running? Should we all pitch in and run it like a co-op? Let’s generate a discussion.

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