Community Responds to Toronto's Glad Day Bookshop Fundraiser

Early last week, Glad Day Bookshop, Toronto, Ont., Canada's oldest 2SLGBTQ bookstore, launched a campaign to raise C$300,000 (US$220,000) to get over "a crisis point" that has threatened the future of the store. The amount includes C$100,000 (US$73,400) to pay back rent and avoid eviction; the rest would go to stabilizing finances and gaining "time to consult with our communities, explore our options, and create the next version of Glad Day."

The community has responded: during the week, Glad Day raised C$112,000 (US$82,160), CBC reported yesterday. Glad Day co-owner Michael Erickson told CBC that the response feels like a "Pride miracle. The fact that 2,000 people supported us within three [to] four days is pretty incredible."

On its fundraiser page, Glad Day said that the store was "close to being financially stable" when the pandemic started. Subsidies in 2020 and 2021 helped, but when the subsidies ended in 2022, "Our revenue did not return to pre-pandemic levels. With inflation on overdrive, we saw a sudden, massive decrease in sales about 9 months ago as people were forced to be careful with their money. Glad Day is still busy, but everyone spends less per visit, and many folks can't spend anything at all."

The store's costs include C$18,000 (US$13,200) each month in rent plus C$6,000 (US$4,400) for insurance, water, and gas. "So that's $24,000 [US$17,600] a month before we have paid for an hour of staff time, paid for one book or paid for coffee beans."

Glad Day has reluctantly cut expenses. It hasn't had a general manager since 2020 or a bookstore manager since 2022. It cut daytime hours, reduced the size and scope of its book inventory, reduced its social media presence, and reduced "high risk/high reward" events like dance parties.

Money raised beyond the C$100,000 for rent will go to hire a part-time fundraiser; subsidize insurance; pay performers and artists for in-store events, improve the sound system, lighting, and build a stage; refresh book inventory, with an emphasis on Canadian authors; repair and improve the accessibility of the store's front door and washroom; and more.

Glad Day hopes to change that and continue the mission its had since its founding in 1970. It noted proudly that it has been "at the heart of Canadian struggles for sexual liberation, free speech and creativity. Since moving to our large ground floor space on Church Street in 2016, Glad Day's community and cultural impact was radically amplified and expanded.

"In many ways, Glad Day is like tofu. We take on the flavour of the people using the space. Many different groups and collectives use the space over the course of the year and we try to support this by reducing the barriers to space use, providing informal mentorship to new organizers and nurturing a vibe that values safety, diversity and imperfection.

"Glad Day funds, supports and organizes many activities, events and services including, but not limited to: performances; literary events; community meetings; workshops; referrals to community and social services; tourist support; informal peer support; crisis intervention; an informal 2SLGBTQ speakers bureau; research support; teacher education; 2SLGBTQ neighbourhood safety; social justice advocacy; and responding to community-related emergencies."

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