The smell of BBQ filled the air as people danced to the beats that came out of the speaker on Harper Avenue on Saturday, October 17. The event was one of celebration with the goal of saving a community staple.
Frontline, a Rastafarian and Black-owned bookstore located in downtown Hyde Park has been facing financial problems due to business dwindling because of the stay-at-home-order that came with COVID-19. On top of losing lots of business, Russell Norman, head of the marketing team for Frontline says that the rent also increased by 400%.
The bookstore has been in the Hyde Park location since 2004, though Frontline has two other locations, the Hyde Park store is its flagship location. The event that took place this past Saturday was a celebration for the community that has surrounded the store since its inception.
Crowning it the first Customer Appreciation Day, Frontline has planned to do the event every year to celebrate those who patron the store. The celebration included 15% off books, free food, a live DJ, and guest speaker, Np Adrenne who detailed her travels through East Africa.
Those walking down Harper Avenue couldn’t help but feel like they were invited to the cookout as they saw those attending having a great time. The vibe was warm and inviting, and the mission was one of importance.
Bookstores such as Frontline have always been significant for the Black community, acting as a safe space to gather for political, religious, and leisure business. Frontline also sells books by local authors, doubling as a publishing house. Online sales are something that Frontline has been focusing on to keep business flowing, Norman says they have no plans of closing the doors of the Hyde Park store.
The bookstore is hoping to raise $50,000. Those interested can donate on GoFundMe.