ITHACA, N.Y. –– After overcoming years of hardships, Buffalo Street Books is once again appealing to the community for support in order to be able to reopen following the end of the COVID-19 crisis.

Buffalo Street Books has started a GoFundMe in order to raise a sum of $25,000 to support continuing necessary operations. The bookstore has rent, payroll, bills from publishers for the books on the shelves, and loan payments due. In addition, the store is looking to launch a new website in order to sell books online and keep the business going while businesses remain closed.

This past year was the first successful year in a while for Buffalo Street Books. In November, General Manager Lisa Swayze told the Ithaca Voice that two years after nearly having to close its doors, the bookstore had “experienced a steady upward trend in sales and community involvement.”

“In 2019, we made a tiny profit. Our ownership grew to over 900 people. We added 6 new ambassadors to our Ithaca Is Books initiative, for a total of 14. We’ve always paid a Living Wage to our employees,” the store said on their fundraising page.

Now, the independent book sellers are once again facing adversity –– this time in the form of state mandates that have forced businesses to temporarily cease operations.

Buffalo Street Books has had to lay off everyone except General Manager Swayze and their part-time bookkeeper.

“We have survived against immense odds, because Ithaca dearly wants a literary hub. But now our existence is threatened by the COVID-19 shutdown, and we need more help than usual,” the GoFundMe says.

As of Thursday, the National Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, as part of a national campaign, announced that they will match all donations up to $25,000 to participating indie bookstores by giving here.

As of time of publication, the fundraiser is well over halfway to meeting the $25,000 goal, bringing in $15,414.

For those who can’t wait to get their hands on new titles, e-books are available via Hummingbird Digital Media as well as audiobooks via Libro.fm on the Buffalo Street Books website.

“Was there a time when a BSB bookseller matched you with the exact right book; when you spent a rainy afternoon in the children’s corner reading to your kids; when you ran into a friend while browsing and spent twenty minutes talking about books; when you were moved at a reading,” the Bookstore said on their fundraising page. “These are the values of a community bookstore, and for these values to persist, we need your help.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that donations to BSB were being matched up to $25,000. The campaign is matching donations to the national campaign up to $25,000, not just BSB.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com