Giovanni’s Room, country’s oldest LGBT bookstore, set to close

Giovanni's Room in Center City is closing its doors. Credit: Uwishunu
Giovanni’s Room in Center City is closing its doors. Credit: Uwishunu

Giovanni’s Room, the country’s oldest LGBT bookstore, is closing its doors on May 17, owner Ed Hermance announced.

The establishment started out on South Street in 1973, then moved to the 1400 block of Spruce Street, and is now at 12th and Pine streets in the Gayborhood. In 2011, historical signage naming it an LGBT cultural center was erected outside the store.

According to the Philadelphia Gay News, Hermance said the buyer for the store he had lined up earlier this year fell through. He made the decision last week to close the doors next month, blaming online retailers for a challenging business environment.

“The government is allowing Amazon to tighten their fingers around the throats of the publishers and drive their retail competitors out of the business by clearly monopolistic methods,” Hermance told PGN.

Four employees stand to lose their jobs if the store closes. Hermance told PGN he is trying to find alternate venues for Giovanni’s Room events scheduled for after the potential closing day.

“It has been a wonderful life for me. It has been wonderful to work for people who love this store so much,” he said in the release. “I thank the thousands of customers, who have been our reason for being. I know we have helped a huge number of people in untold ways, and they have successfully helped the store when it was threatened.”

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