Don't call it a comeback, but are Philly's independent bookstores recovering?

Antionette Lee
November 24, 2018 - 4:42 pm

Antionette Lee | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- For a while, independent bookstores struggled to keep up with competitors like eBooks, Amazon and mega bookstore chains, such as Barnes & Noble, but they are making a comeback.

Owner of Hakim's Bookstore, at 52nd and Walnut Streets, Yvonne Blake says a just a few years ago her business was on the verge of closing its doors for good.

"I think it had a lot to do with the economy and the political face of the nation at that time, and economics,” she said. “We saw a downturn due to the Market Frankford El project that lasted a number of years. We lost a number of customers then."

Founded almost 60 years ago by her late father, Dawud Hakim, she says closing what's believed to be the oldest African American bookstore in the country would’ve been a huge loss for the community. But thankfully, like many indie bookstores across the nation, they too have seen resurgence.

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“Lately, we've seen younger people, that weren't around when my dad opened the store, are now coming in and they’re more interested in their history,” she explains. “I think the current political climate has a lot to do with that."

Longtime customer Ted Stones says there are some things in the brick and mortar store that you just can't get online.

“This is a place where I come, so I can connect with the community,” he said. “Right now I’m standing here, I feel like I’m connecting with people from the 70's until now. You have to be present to get the energy.”

"I’m just trying to continue my dad’s legacy and keep our store open," Blake adds.

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